Archive for the ‘Resumes’ Category

Getting Into the Real World Mentality

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

By Kristen Fischer,

The end of the semester is fast approaching for many college seniors. Even though you may be caught up in campus life, the professional world is just around the bend. Here are a few tips on how to get into a “real world” mentality to make the transition a tad bit easier.

Think about what you want to do. You have been studying a particular field for around four years, but that doesn’t mean you will—or will want to—automatically enter it. If you know that you want to pursue something else upon graduation, there is nothing wrong with not going into the field you studied. In fact, you’ll do better off knowing this from the get-go so you can build your career in another field. Regardless of what you want to do, learn about your options. Examine what you want your ideal day to be like. What kinds of jobs are available in your industry and in the region you want to work in?

It may sound silly but most new grads are on autopilot and, understandably, enter the working world taking whatever job they can get. But you want to build a career now that you have your degree; not just get a job. Put some thought into the direction you want to take.

Get crackin’ on a resume. I know it may seem daunting to work on something that doesn’t have a deadline—unlike turning in a final paper—but this document is equally as important. While you are on campus and have the resources, talk to the pros at your Career Services office and get tips for writing a resume, and feedback from people who know all about them.

Compiling a resume is often overwhelming for soon-to-be grads because they feel like there’s nothing to fill up an entire page, but if you really assess your skill set and look at the latest resume-writing trends, you can come up with a powerful resume that will get you the job.

Start looking for a job—yesterday. Again, you may be swamped with class work or you may be trying to relish your time as an undergrad, but nowadays, jobs are hard to come by. Add the fact that you’ll soon have to pay off loans and bills—and probably want to get your own pad at some point—and you will realize that you don’t want to be behind the eight ball. It is frustrating when your peers have great jobs lined up while they are still students. While that does not happen to everyone, many students are preparing to enter the professional world months before they graduate. Be proactive in your job search and start putting feelers out. You never know how long it will take to get a job and it’s smarter in the long run to get something fulfilling and profitable so you don’t have to take any old gig to get by. (Chances are, you went to college so you would not have to just “get by” anyway.)

Even thinking about what you want to do and where you want to live—and arranging for those things—is smart planning. Talk to your parents about the possibility of moving home or see if you can get a roommate if you want to be out on your own or plan to move far from home.

When summer starts and your classmates are at work and you are home on mom’s sofa, it may feel good for a while but it won’t be long before you will want to get out into the working world. Start your search now so you can make a timely transition.

Practice interviewing. If you aced your public speaking class and excel at debates, that doesn’t mean you will be a natural at an interview. Most of the time, the weight of landing your first job and the pressure of impending expenses can turn you into a frazzled mess when it comes time to sit down for a one-on-one. That kind of anxiety can take away every strategy you have mastered in the past. Start developing answers to common interview questions and practice a mock interview with a friend or a professional in the Career Services office. You can submit a stellar resume but the interview is what makes or breaks it. First impressions are huge in the real world.

Coming in to an office wide-eyed and bushy-tailed is common for recent grads, but you can get more comfortable with a professional environment by rehearsing answers and dressing up. Pay attention to things like how much you fidget—you may smell like an entry-level candidate to the interviewer but you don’t want to look like one, too!

Enjoy your last days in college. Even though it is beneficial to think about and prepare for the future, there is nothing like living in the now. Spend extra time with friends, sleep in, stay out late, hit up a crazy party, or enjoy campus activities. Even if you cannot wait to graduate, you will probably long to be a college student again at some point in the future—make the most of it now.

Balance, balance, balance. This is an overwhelming time for everyone so try to prioritize what matters. Yes, putting together the resume and starting your job search is important, but you may just want to get the foundation started before you start job hunting. Then you can use that time to complete coursework and make time for fun. There’s also nothing wrong with visiting a counselor to help developing coping strategies. If you’re feeling stressed, take a step back and make time to enjoy things—no one said you have to do everything before your graduation date, but starting to get things in order will help you in the future, too.

Kristen Fischer is the author of Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life. For more tips on preparing for life after college and coping with 20-something issues, visit

10 Tips for Writing Resumes That Get You Noticed

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

As if you don’t have enough on your plate already, now it’s time to write a killer resume. Grab some coffee and have a seat. The task of writing a resume is daunting to almost everyone…even successful professionals who have been working for 30+ years. It’s feels overwhelming to know where to start, what to include and what to leave off. The following 10 tips will help you write a resume that will not only stand out, but is sure to get you noticed by hiring managers.

1. Throw out the objective statement.
Get rid of it. If the objective statement on your current resume says something like “Looking for entry-level job in Information Systems that will allow me to use my technical skills, organizational skills and people skills”, hit the delete button now. The hiring manager knows what your objective is the minute he or she receives your email with the subject line “Application for entry-level information systems position”.

2. Include LOTS of white space.
Human Resources staff review hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes a day. They’re already cross-eyed by the time they get to your resume, so do them a favor and don’t litter your resume with extraneous words that take up lots of space but have no impact.

3. Bullet points are your friend.
Lengthy, rambling, important sounding paragraphs that mean nothing are out. Bullets are in. HR will be impressed if you explain your accomplishments concisely. They will contact you for an interview. You will be happy.

4. The purpose of a resume is to get an interview, not win a formatting contest.
The only purpose of your resume is to create enough interest in you to have an employer contact you for an interview. No one cares if you don’t have an objective statement. No one cares if you list your activities above your skills or vice versa. Make your resume interesting, not a clone of every resume template you’ve downloaded from the internet. (HINT: Most of those resume sites exist to make money from google ads and other revenue streams that depend on lots of pages of content.) Don’t be fooled into thinking your resume has to look like everyone else’s.

5. Keep your resume professional and mature.
Do not include activities you participated in while you were still in High School unless they are REALLY spectacular, or they are something you continued to be involved in all throughout college. For example, if you were a photographer for your high school yearbook, but now you can’t even operate a camera, leave it off your resume. Here are some more suggestions.

DO include:

-Winning a gold medal at the Olympics

-Organizing a blood drive for the Red Cross

-Fundraising for important causes and charities

DON’T include:

-Being voted best looking for your high school yearbook

-Organizing Senior Skip Day

-Belonging to the Seinfeld fan club

6. Use action words.
Action words take your resume from drab to dazzling. To add sizzle to your resume, use bullet points that begin with action words like achieved, created, presented and managed. In addition, make sure the grammar on your resume is consistent. For example if you’re using past tense, make sure you don’t switch to present tense for the next bullet point.

Example of what not to do:

  • Won the salesperson of the month award in April for closing 80% of all cold calls.
  • Write sales copy for web site. (should be “Wrote”)

7. Use numbers and dollar figures to make your resume stand out.
This reduces clutter from writing everything out, and makes you seem impressive.

  • Increased web traffic by 45% in less than 3 months.

8. Use keywords to avoid getting screened out by HR computer software.
Many HR departments utilize software programs that screen resumes for the significant keywords listed in the job description or posting. Read through the job description carefully and be sure to sprinkle the important keywords throughout your resume.

9. An entry-level resume should be 1 page only.
No, you should not have a 2 page resume at this point in your career. Yes, hiring managers will laugh at you and toss your resume in the wastebasket. Seriously, keep it to one page. It’s the only formatting rule you really have to follow.

10. Proofread your resume, and then have someone else review it.
You will miss a typo, or a repeated word word. It happens more often than you think think. Don’t get passed over for an interview because you couldn’t spare a few extra hours to perfect the document that is more important than your thesis. Have someone review it and give you their honest opinion. Try to get it reviewed by a career counselor or someone who has experience in the field you plan to pursue.

Can’t Find the Name of the Hiring Manager?

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Every career expert tells you to address your cover letter to a specific person, right? They warn letters with generic salutations like, Dear HR Manager, are sure to end up in the trash bin. But some technology savvy companies make this next to impossible by not listing staff member names online, or by obfuscating HR titles on LinkedIn.

Solution? Time warp back to the 1980’s and use the telephone. Here’s a link to over 900 US companies from with tips and tricks for getting around their automated voicemail services. So, next time you’re unsure who to address your cover letter to, use this list to get a live person and just ask.

Resumes 2.0

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

May graduates are quickly discovering that finding a job this year requires  skills equivalent to slaying a three-headed dragon. Not only must graduates compete with classmates for open jobs, but they have to beat out candidates who have more experience and are willing to work for less. Finally, grads must convince overwhelmed HR personnel that after four years in school – with little to no experience – they have what it takes to succeed.

San Jose State University Senior Josephine Chandra has opted to use a better, more professional way to get noticed when seeking employment – VisualCV.  VisualCV is a free online, media-rich resume that allows job seekers to create a winning online portfolio and provide first interview content to hiring managers who are inundated with potential candidates.  The paper resume that graduates are told to use is a necessary start, but they also need to utilize tools that are better suited for the digital age: tools that can help them present a 360-degree view of their skills, strengths and accomplishments all in one place.

By incorporating the content from their one-dimensional paper resume into new mediums like VisualCV, pending graduates can present a professional online image that goes beyond text to include graphics, photos, video and relevant links to showcase educational achievements, internships, work experience, volunteer work, interesting projects, professor recommendations, and more.  For instance, this is how Jason Wray got his first job! It’s also how Alicia Alexander landed her Marketing Coordinator position with The League for People with Disabilities. (Alicia’s story will be featured in an upcoming “Interview Spotlight”.)

Learn more about how to create the perfect online resume.

Resume Advice

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Here’s a link to an article about crafting your resume by Kevin Donlin, a career columnist for a newspaper in Minnesota and the man behind Guaranteed Resumes, LLC. He’s no longer in the resume writing business, but he offers a lot of free advice for job seekers online.

I liked this article because it talks about many of the topics we cover in our book. For those who just want a quick summary of the article, here you go:

  1. Be professional and don’t use an immature or silly email address. (i.e.
  2. Avoid spelling and grammatical errors. (Larger companies use scanning software to skim your resume for certain keywords that apply to the position they’re hiring for. If you misspell the words that are meant to communicate your key qualifications, your resume will never see the light of day.)
  3. Keep your resume to one page. It is highly doubtful that you have enough experience to fill two pages at this point in your career. 
  4. Do not enhance your resume with buzzwords you don’t understand, or experience you don’t really have. Stick to the truth.
  5. Be patient. Finding a full-time job is a full-time job.

To read more about what NOT to do during your job search, click here to visit our Tips & Articles section of