Ask for reply about when an informational interview would be possible. Why are you asking for action on the part of the reader?
The employment process does not stop with an application/cover letter and resume. Let's say you are offered the job. How do you want to ensure everything the employer said was clear? You write a letter of acceptance. Your purpose is to leave everything in writing to avoid any possible misunderstandings later. Also, it is good form to write this letter of acceptance. It shows the employer you are there for business. Therefore, approach the letter in the following manner:
- First paragraph: Thank the employer for giving you this job opportunity. Comment that you gladly accept.
- Second paragraph: Comment on the terms of employment, including when you report and salary already discussed. Mention anything else related to employment terms.
- Third, last paragraph: Comment that you are looking forward to starting. Let the employer know you will be glad to furnish any other information desired.
That's the letter. The letter is fairly short and quite important to write. The rejection letter takes a different twist. We call that letter a bad news letter-bad news for the employer. You are fortunate to be offered several positions. You realize you must reject certain ones. You start a rejection letter in the following manner:
- First paragraph: Mention a buffer paragraph. Find something you and the employer agree upon. Perhaps, both of you agree the interview was successful. Talk about the successful interview. Mention, for example, that the job opportunity represents a golden one for someone.
- Second paragraph: Let the employer down easily, psychologically speaking. Make no mistake, though, about giving your rejection. Give reasons for your rejection. The position you accepted represents less distance to drive on the freeway. People can appreciate that kind of analysis. I wouldn't dwell too much on salary; people expect you to make all the money you can. Find some valid reasons, though.
- Third, last paragraph: Close with good will. You want to retain this person's good will because you never when you might see this person at a social or business gathering. Mention that you appreciated being considered. Talk about what you learned from the brief encounter called the interview. Make the other person feel his or her time was not wasted with you. I would not close the letter with some of the following signoffs: Good luck. I hope our paths cross sometime. Best wishes in your endeavors.
When you start a resume for the first time or review resumes after many years, you are confronted with major sections:
- job objective
- summary of qualifications (professional profile)
- work experience
- skills and abilities
In Resumes for Dummies the author, Joyce Lain Kennedy, offers an excellent description of what types of information should be placed in the Summary of Qualifications or Professional Profile. A summary of qualifications to be effective should include:
- number of years of work experience
- record of improvement of reputation
- specific skills and training applicable to the job objective
- areas of specialized proficiency
- work ethic traits demonstrating candidacy and constructiveness.
The author cleverly calls us Web Rez-web resumes (or resume preparers) as we construct five or six essential bullets that allow the reader to scan the first third of the resume. One writer I read recently referred to the upper third of the resume as the Hot Zone. The Hot Zone becomes that portion most often read by the prospective employer.
The so-called Hot Zone means words cannot be wasted in the Summary. For example, a student could write the following bullets:
- Trustworthy and honest
- Hardworking and ambitious
- Sincere in my endeavors.
A critical look at this list of traits suggests most resume preparers would want to write this trait set. Do you know anyone who does not want to be thought of as honest, organized, and hardworking? The words, technically, represent little meaning. They just become words to place on the page. However, you can take these traits and turn them into something practical and positive. Let's take the word, hardworking. The resume preparer could write: "Hardworking, as demonstrated by continuous appearance on Dean's Honor List and scholarships received." Now, the word has more meaning. Let's try another word: "Honest." The resume preparer could pen: "Honest, as demonstrated by no audits at our bank and commendation by branch manager for finding numerous bank errors." You have now demonstrated the traits as the resume preparer. A resume as mentioned so many times represents a selling document. Therefore, you have to sell your quaifications, even in the Summary of Qualifications. The next time you write personal traits, think of applications. How can you demonstrate you possess those traits over someone who just says the individual has them?
When you do a resume, you are always left with the Work Experience section showing duties and responsibilities. Yet, employers want to see accomplishments. What are accomplishments? Accomplishments are results. You need to ask yourself this question every time you write just a duty or responsibility: which results in what? The answer to that demanding question will move you toward writing accomplishments.
Well-run resume services constantly ask their clients to evolve accomplishments as the resume is prepared. I have recently received permission from Ms. Sandy Hild, owner of The Resume Doctor in Houston, Texas, to share her probing questions she asks clients who are starting to write accomplishments:
- What is your targeted audience? What type of job are you pursuing?
- Who do you currently work for? How would you describe this company? What do they do?
- Describe very basically what you do.
- Whom do you interact with internally and externally?
- Is there anything that you have to negotiate?
- What kind of specific reports do you have to prepare?
- Have you revamped any of those reports or developed new ones?
- What kind of shape was the department in when you took over?
- How has the position changed since you first started working for this company?
- What are you doing that is not part of your job description?
- If the client automated a system, what parts of the system did the person work on?
- Did the automating improve accuracy; does it take less time; what percentage does it eliminate in paperwork?
- Did the automating reduce billable time to the client? If yes, then has the automating allowed the company to take on additional clients with no additional personnel?
- How quickly did the automating pay for itself if you purchased new software?
These questions suggest how important it is for you, the applicant, to write accomplishments on that resume. You need to probe your strengths. If you say you are a dedicated employee, please back that up with a story. Ms. Hild suggests the following:
I worked 88 days straight during a particular project to make certain it was completed on time.
Always think of yourself as a mini commercial. What would you tell a prospective employer if you had a chance to present yourself? I liked what Sandy said about the client and the resume preparer working together. The effort is worth the time. Always think of your areas of expertise, such as budget development, forecasting, financial statement preparation, and so forth.
You should, at this point, have achieved a comfort level with accomplishment writing.
The list you have read under the heading, "Summary of Qualifications" does not represent the only way to do a resume. For example, in an electronic resume you will want to employ key words. Key words could be any nouns, such as Word 7.0, Sales Supervisor, or Internet Sales. The employer looking at your key words (usually placed after the Job Objective) can immediately slot you as a Supervisor, Word 7.0 experience, and knows the Internet. Therefore, if the company or organization needs that kind of person, your keywords on the resume have done the trick.
You actually set up a section on your electronic resume called Key Words. The employer looks at this section, scans the data, and places your resume on file.
Sometimes the Key Words are included in the Subject Line of the E-mail message you send to the employer. Then, the employer can immediately tell your qualifications from your subject line. Key Words as nouns, (not verbs), help the prospective employer to classify your qualifications for future reference.
Electronic resumes continue to mushroom. The ideas about them are talked about in the job search literature. Two ideas appear to be emerging from this electronic resume discussion:
- A summary of qualifications is now more important than ever before.
- Nouns and descriptive nouns are just as important as active, functional verbs.
When a resume has to be scanned, the employer should be helped in any way possible. The job summary, qualifications summary, or professional profile aid the scanning of important information about the applicant. If the applicant is careful in placing descriptive nouns, the employer can immediately profile that candidate with the help of scanners and sophisticated software. Software techniques are now so sophisticated that they can pick out the difference between Harvard Graphics and Harvard University. Both are considered nouns.
Lately, I have investigated a link called "www.mixed-resumes.com." On this link the authors explain the one-page resume, the hypertext resume, and the portfolio resume. What struck me about this evolution concerned how fast the Web is being employed for resume preparation. One student visited with me about his web page. I immediately noticed his resume on his home page. He provided certain underlined sections for the employer to link or "jump to." In his case, the links described companies he had worked for. That is one use for the home page; the portfolio electronic resume takes the situation a step further.
After going through the requirements to achieve the CECC (Certified Electronic Career Coach) requirements, certain ideas stood out as ways to improve the designing of web portfolio resumes. First, think of web portfolio resumes as having artifacts. These artifacts could consist of photographs, certificates of achievement, quoted messages, responses from clients or customers, and anything else that qualify as an artifact.
Artifacts lend an air of professionalism to the resume. You demonstrate through artifacts that you have the credentials to back up your claims under Work Experience or Education or Related Experience. You add something special to the resume that makes the prospective employer stand up and take notice.
In a web portfolio resume you need Links. These links allow you to hop from one part of your resume to the next. Anytime the employer sees something underlined or a navigation bar, then the person is alerted to look at the rest of your web portfolio. Links allow navigation. In the case of links, you must make sure to link back to the main or homepage of your web portfolio for ease of movement.
Third, you need a philosophy. You need to answer the question: What makes can you unique? What makes you unique as an applicant? Can you state that uniqueness in one sentence. When I was asked to prepare my own web portfolio, I, finally, evolved the following sentence: My philosophy is to respect, encourage, motivate, and evaluate students. Those four words of the philosophy allowed a storyboard to be built of what was going to placed on the different web portfolio pages. You need that philosophy, and the web portfolio is technically incomplete with it. You need that plan as a kind of mission statement of your uniqueness.
Fourth, you need a storyboard. A storyboard represents a kind of visual plan of how you want to develop your web portfolio. You may use software, such as Inspiration Software, or simple 5 x 3 cards to develop your storyboard ideas. An example may explain the situation. Notice how elaborate the example has become. You don't have to make your example so elaborate. Moviemakers use storyboards all the time in planning their frames. Definitely, you need to look at the example of a storyboard. Walt Disney and his studio were famous for storyboards. Animators constantly use storyboards. The same holds true for the resume preparer. You should use drawings as well as text when you plan your storyboard. Think about how resume page is going to appear. What .gifs or .jpgs will you need to include on various resume pages? How will you go about scanning those images so they look professional on the different web portfolio pages? Storyboard work allows more strict planning. You begin to see how the entire web portfolio resume is going to emerge.
Fifth, you put all the pieces together with navigational tools. How many parts of the resume do you want to show on the public network (the Internet)? Can we navigate on your main page to all the different links. When I did my web portfolio I created the following headings: Professional Experience, Education and Educational Activities, Contributions to the University, Contributions to the Community, Creative Pursuits, Professional Presentations, and Professional Publications. At the moment, my web portfolio resume is a work in progress. You will probably find after you design your navigational tools you will want to change your mind about the headings. That is perfectly normal.
Sixth, you need to know how you place your resume on the Web. Do you know HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)code, or are you willing to learn the code quickly? Do you like to use Frontpage, Dreamweaver, or another suitable program to complete the resume on the Internet? Do you know someone who will volunteer as your webmaster to complete the resume assignment? How can you get your resume posted on the Internet? After all, you eventually want the prospective employer public to look at your web portfolio resume.
In the portfolio electronic resume you provide a "vanilla-type" page with your name, address, e-mail address, web address (if appropriate), and job objective. Then, the links begin. The first we have just described is called the Welcome page. From the Welcome Page you branch to Education, Experience, Activities, Skills, Personal Statement, and additional thoughts. For example, you have a half or full page devoted to your education, including your anticipated degree, major and option, dates of attendance, awards and honors, and selected, significant courses. You could have a separate hyperlink for Awards and Honors. In this person's portfolio you can then double click on Experience or Work Experience. Here you talk about the specific companies, their city address, and the strong, active verbs of your accomplishments with those organizations. The branching continues with your selecting Activities where you describe the collegiate organizations and clubs you belong to and the offices you have held. You can also report your honors and awards within those organizations. You can talk about your fraternities and sororities as well as honor organizations, such as Blue Key. The prospective employer can then select your Skills link where you describe your computer knowledge and the versions of software you know. You can talk about interpersonal skills and any other skills you possess.
Without exhausting your web page the prospective employer can then look at your link for Personal Statement. As I perceive the personal statement, that means your application/cover letter. The prospective employer can read more details and see how skillful a business writer you are. Suddenly, the employer realizes you have a great deal to offer that particular firm.
You have completed your portfolio resume. Now you want to load on the public network for the world to see. What do you do?
These procedures as originally discussed in an on-campus seminar should work. I am indebted to the handout, "Using Microsoft FrontPage 2000 for Windows," and its appendixes for the next comments. I am also indebted to Professor Cecille Bendavid in her unpublished book, Introduction to HTML. If you have never set up a network account, you need to login and configure the account. You normally run a login account on telnet csun1.csun.edu from Telnet. Here are the specific steps:
You may next to want to look at your Web page online. Your Web page address is: http://www.csun.edu/~account. That tilde before your account means you have placed your loginID. This command means only you are pemitted to change and transfer (upload and download)files between your desktop and your web server account.
- Click on the Start Button.
- Select Run. Key the following: telnet csun1.csun.edu (click ok)
- Enter your login.
- Key your password. Press enter.
- At the command prompt, "csun>", please enter the following three commands:
- mkdir public_html (press enter)
This command creates the directory where your web documents (electronic resume) will be located.
- chmod 711 $HOME (press enter)
As you can tell, chmod refers to Change Mode. The command permits others to access your home directory while not allowing them to read any of the files.
- chmod 755 public_html
As Professor Bendavid points out, you then can list the contents in your directory by using the command Is--al. If you want to delete a file, the command is rm. The command for refreshing the screen in Pico is Control + L. You can do your HTML coding on Notepad if you want.
Let's say we have successfully written the job objective (usually a job title) and the summary of qualifications. You will probably next list your work experience. That's what the employer wants to see. What should you list? Consider the following:
- Years of work experience with each position
- Job title
- Results or Accomplishments in each position
- Specifics about your work experience (e.g. number supervised or money saved the company)
- Active, functional verbs to describe work
The most important part of the work experience is the Accomplishments section. You want to do more than list duties and responsibilities. Anyone can do that. You can talk about your position as a waiter. Why is that important? Who cares? The employer will care if you talk about your emphasis on customer service and your ability to get along with people. Now, the employer starts taking notice because you are stressing results. Results come packaged in strong verbs with specifics. Read any good resume book, including Tom Jackson's The Perfect Resume to glean ideas about strong verbs and results. I particularly like Tom Washington's The Hunt: Complete Guide to Effective Job Finding where he emphasizes that you should ask every time you write a duty or responsibility: "Which results in what?"
The resume does not become the place to express shy comments. You want to sell your qualifications under your work experience. Are you strong in computers? Then, say so. Do you know five languages? Then, express that information with the phrase, "Proficient in . . ." You say to yourself while composing a resume you "contacted customers." What exactly does that mean? Did you problem solve? If you are writing a resume to apply for a management position, you definitely should stress your organizational and problem-solving skills. You want to build more strength with your comments.
Education should never be neglected. Suppose you have been a warehouse manager. Your major in college reads: "Marketing." Should you include your information about warehousing after the summary of qualifications? Not necessarily. You may want, obviously, to apply for a marketing position. Therefore, your education should go before your work experience. Place your most important information first. Once you start writing your education section, consider these points:
- Degree anticipated, such as B.S. in Business Administration
- Major and option
- Anticipated date of graduation
- Years of attendance
- Listing of community college, if appropriate
- Awards and honors (e.g. Dean's Honor List, number of semesters)
- Grade point average (if proud of it)
- No need for high school listings (unless a special honor or appropriate listing)
Don't forget to list your computer skills. Specify which versions of software you know. Employers are looking for computer skills. You may have a separate category for skills or computer skills or include under "Education." People often forget the importance of writing projects they have done for different classes during their college career. Tom Washington recommends you write 45-75 words about the project and include it in your resume. It could be a term paper on some marketing or management concept. It could be a group project that had implications for how you understand teamwork and presentations. The point is this: Everything you do in your college career may have a bearing on what the employer is looking for. You should never complete a half page resume and expect that effort to be accepted by the prospective employer. Employers are looking for what you can do. Please don't get caught in the trap, "Is this all you are worth?", as the person stares at a half page resume.
You do not need to include personal references or personal data, such as hobbies and interests. Now a proviso needs to be made. These hobbies or interests may relate directly to the position. In that case, you might want to include you enjoy racquetball and bridge to show how well-rounded you are. The decision is still up to you. If you plan your resume carefully, you will have little room for extraneous matters.
Another issue immediately comes up. Should I write "references available upon request?" Not really. That just tends to fill the page. Should I have a two-page resume? Robert Half, the famous, large temporary help agency in the United States and the World, recommends a two-page resume for executive positions. Supervisory and below could use a one-page resume. If you have a two-page resume, do not despair. However, if you only two lines of your resume left for the second page, you should think about combining in one page. Always place your most important information on the first page because of the employer scanning your resume for content. For a rookie resume preparer one page may be sufficient.
When you are preparing your updated or first resume, think of all the experiences you had that were not paid. That so-called volunteer work can be grouped under a heading, "Related Experience." We all carry out tasks in life where we are not paid for our services. Think about your church and synagogue work where you exercised leadership responsibilities. Think about charity work where you performed on a team and contributed. Think about leadership opportunities in the public or private school your children or relatives attend. All of these activities can suggest to the employer you are worth a great deal. Often, an internship (probably grouped under Education section) need to brought out in the resume. You need to fill space and important space; therefore, don't forget what you are contributing to your community. Even your leadership and coaching skills (if properly marketed) from the park or local team can mean something to the prospective employer.
We should all admire the work of the National Business Employment Weekly. Every so often this publication features articles that create immense interest. Such an article appeared under the title, "Six Resume Mistakes That Can Kill Your Career" (Kevin Donlin, pp.21-22, September 26-October 2, 1999). Do you know the six mistakes?
- No objective or summary
- Focusing on you and your needs
- Focusing on duties and responsibilities instead of results
- Too many big words
- Errors in spelling and punctuation
- E-mailing a garbled resume.
How did you do? Some of these list points require further elaboration. Let's deal with "2" and "3." Employers don't want you to experience "i-itis" on a resume. You need to answer the question: What's in it for them? Employers want prospective employees who have produced results. Kevin Donlin advises you not to come across as someone "who uses people." Give actual numbers with accomplishment instead of a laundry list of duties and responsibilities. Sharon Kirchner, owner of Career Strategies, in Edina, Minnesota said the issue well: "Results are the bottom line."
Item No. 4 needs some elaboration. Say you worked with people instead of interfacing with them. Prefer the word, use, instead of utilize. Don't waste the reader's time with ten-thousand-dollar words.
Finally, item No. 6 requires our consideration. What is garbled resume? One that cannot be read from e-mail. Send your resume as an attachment. You can even send it in RTF (R ich T ext F le) for most word processors to read, advises Kevin Donlin. Copy and paste the text of the resume into the e-mail's body. You could paste the resume text onto the clipboard, and then paste the text into your e-mail body.
Your resume requires an appeal to the eye. White space should be judiciously applied in the resume. Allow at least one-inch left, right, and bottom margins. Use bullets where appropriate to give the resume better scanning opportunities. Employers expect to scan resumes. Computers also scan resumes for important keywords. If you have to go to a second page to make your resume more eye appealing, consider that effort.
Students constantly remind me of important issues in the job search. Let's say an employer asks you to fax your resume. Should you fax your cover or application letter as well? I think it depends on the employment notice. If the employer asks for both cover letter and resume to be faxed, fax both of them. However, read the job advertisement carefully. Always provide a hard copy when you are invited to the job interview. Be prepared to send the hard copy after you have faxed the resume or both. You have to remember that faxes do not always appear in good shape at the prospective employer's end. You may have smudges, and whole pages may be obliterated. Prepare for the worst and expect the best.
In the zeal to prepare the so-called perfect resume, preparers forget about the cardinal rule of using only two fonts. Remember that font is a part of a typeface. A font could be Courier or Helvetica, for examples. Resume preparers want to emphasize their qualifications, so they use italics, bolding, and underlining. This use creates problems when the resume has to be computer scanned. The scanner picks up every line, bolding, and italics. It makes errors because so many different styles have to be read. I would keep the resume clean without overemphasizing certain sections. You can still emphasize with white space and bullets.
One of my former students recently asked me a perplexing question: "How do you handle salary history on the resume? So many companies in their classified ads ask for the salary history." My first reaction was to suggest a summary of salary history on a separate resume page with only ranges shown or a progression of how the salary increased during employment. On reflection, I decided to check what the experts thought about this subject.
Most of the authorities, including Tom Washington (The Job Hunt), Taunee Besson, and Kate Wendleton (Through the Brick Wall: How to Job-Hunt in a Tight Market), suggest the salary history should be omitted wherever possible. They recommend an employer should consider an applicant on the person's merits rather than salary history. I finally recommended to the student to put some phrase like this expression on his resume: "Salary is negotiable." It satisfies the requirement of the advertisement without going into detail. The applicant may be at a disadvantage if the salary history is too low or too high for the employer's needs. Sometimes the applicant is forced to read in the advertisment that salary history is demanded or required. Then, the applicant may be forced to consider the salary history or not be considered for the position. Apparently, many employers use the salary history notation to weed out applicants who would not meet their standards. Taunee Besson in National Business Employment Weekly Resumes says the issue of salary well: "Salary is one of those subjects best discussed face-to-face once you and your potential employer are almost ready to close the deal."
Whenever I read in The Wall Street Journal or anywhere else the resume if no longer valid, I take such information with a grain of salt. Lately, the statistic from Richard Bolles (author of What Color Is Your Parachute) has stated that only one resume in 1,470 will result in an accepted job. Therefore, the conclusion can be drawn that resumes are outdated as a vehicle for obtaining a job interview.
Hal Lancaster in the February 3, 1998 issue of The Wall Street Journal suggests otherwise about the power of a resume. A resume allows you to focus your career goals. Mr. Lancaster certainly believes a resume is only one job hunting tool in a whole arsenal. For example, job proposal letters exist.
Bruce Tulgan, a management consultant with Generation X, highly recommends job proposal letters. I would think of these letters as letters of intent. An employer asks you to say where you would fit in the organization, if promoted. You outline the employer's needs and your best fit. You submit free samples of your work to prove your case you can do what you say you can do. Those tangible examples help convince the employer to slot you in a particular hierarchy.
After participating in a Career Masters Institute course on "Executive Resume Writing," I think it is important to share some of its main ideas. These ideas come from the instructor, Ms. Wendy Enelow.
You will notice with executive resumes they have the usual characteristics: summary of qualifications, work experience, and education. They are usually prepared by a service or individual who may take 45 minutes to one hour interviewing the client. A caution certainly ensues. That preparer must talk the keywords of the client, whether in purchasing, sales, engineering, or whatever. The buzzwords become crucial.
According to Enelow four resume building blocks emerge:
- Who are you? E.g., are you a banker vice president?
- How do you want to be perceived? Who do you want to be now?
- How much money do you want to make?
- What is your personal information? A vice president who is 32 and making $75,000 a year is treated differently from one, 54 years old, making $250,000 a year.
You notice immediately with an executive summary that it includes paragraphs and bullets. The paragraphs provide an introduction. The bullets add the specific details. A resume is tailored to the client. You treat a resume differently for someone changing careers than someone trying to be promoted.
Granted, resumes are changing their complexion with the emerging technologies. You can prepare your resume as part of your web page. You can have the employer reader click on certain resume highlights and link to larger discussions. For example, Hal Lancaster related how Bob Rindner, a Boca Raton, Florida, stockbroker, created an electronic resume with hyperlinks for samples of Rindner's work. Certain brokerage concepts were explained in more detail by clicking on the web resume pages.
A recent television program of Wall Street Journal Report featured questions and criteria to use when applying the Internet to job search. Without a guide the applicant is somewhat lost trying to try the best Web sites promoting job information and resumes. The following questions were posed on this television program, courtesy of Margaret Dikel and the WSJ Report, to help the applicant or job seeker:
- Who is running this site?
- Did I go to the big sites first?
Comment: You will find plenty of positions associated with accounting, business, and marketing. Select your targets carefully as you browse the Internet.
- Does the web site have dates?
- Do I know when this job was posted?
- What size of company am I dealing with?
- What specific words am I using? Accounting? Business? Marketing?
- Have I checked out the small sites?
- Are the home pages used as a recruitment vehicle?
- Did I examine the company's web page first?
- Have I examined these web pages before?
- Am I patient?
To show you the value of the Internet as a job search tool, consider this statistic. KMPG Peat Marwick, one of the Big Five accounting firms, estimates 33 percent of its resumes are received either through e-mail or fax. The electronic resume has arrived. Naturally, you should continue your traditional ways of finding a position, including networking with friends and business associates, looking for companies that intrigue you, and recognizing company home pages as recruitment tools. Do you remember what was earlier said about keywords on an electronic resume? Those keywords signal skill sets the prospective employer can immediately apply to possible openings.
In the same TV program, the correspondents recommended the following web sites as particularly useful:
One should note that monster.com, the superbowl of sites, at this writing has 170,000 job postings with 1,000,000 resumes submitted. In addition, 35,000 companies are actively searching on this site for employees.
When you hear the term, job banks, think of career webs or resume databases. All these words possess similar meanings. For the most part, the applicant does not pay for the job bank use. The employer is usually charged a subscription fee. Some job banks may charge the applicant as well.
You submit your resume, in most cases, for free. The employer gains a pool of candidates. Human resource magazines, according to Dr. Teena Carnegie from Oregon State University (formerly from Purdue University), have touted the job banks as the wave of the future. These job banks are supposed to cut the cost of recruitment.
Most the job banks have some kind of check boxes for the applicant. We call that form a user interface. It is the point at which the hardware and software interact with the job information. Most job banks, if properly designed, should provide a successful and satisfying experience for the user. You can see the end product, your resume data, in a well-designed bank. It is understandable and logical.
Applicants bring different career goals to the job banks. You want to see a searchable database with multitudes of hits. The employers want quality candidates within reasonable times. The resume bank provider wants as many applicants as possible.
Problems do occur from the applicant standpoint when using the job banks. How do you properly represent yourself? What type of language do you employ? If you don't have a great deal of work experience, how do you handle those questions? A few resume banks place a section for "volunteer experience." In other cases, you can list the volunteer experience as part of your work experience, even though you weren't paid for the efforts. It must be understood every resume bank is not suitable for a student. Usually, these job banks are designed for individuals who have at least three years' experience.
In time, you may find you need to apply to the Federal Government for work and lifetime careers. What appears an easy task involves a number of steps with the help of the Internet. First, you need one of the most important sites for finding Federal work:
In examining the URL for this site you note certain distinguishing characteristics. First, you will go to a site that has multiple layers to understand. Second, you will notice the opm. That stands for Office of Personnel Management that lists some 14,000 job opportunities on the site and a need to understand the classification of government positions. You probably noticed the .gov to indicate a government website.
You go to the website and discover the illustrations (constantly changing)and the need to link. You should definitely look at the FAQs or Most Frequently Asked Questions to pinpoint that start of your search. Click on the appropriate Job Seeker Help, such as How can I search by Department? Realize you are starting on an adventure in finding a job opportunity and possible lifetime work. You must be patient in your search, both in waiting for the links and reading the appropriate text. The Federal Government still represents one of the largest employers in the United States.
You have clicked on Search Jobs and found a series of job opportunities you want to seek. You may place in the name of the agency, such as Homeland Security, or indicate a particular job opportunity. Read through and see how the Government classifies jobs, such as managerial and administrative. Begin to understand KSAs. You have never heard of KSAs? The Government lives on KSAs. KSAs mean Knowledges, Skills, and Abilities. Knowledges mean the information you already possess or have learned. Skills mean exactly what they say. Do you possess keyboarding skills, filing skills, or assembly line skills, for examples? The Government has a need for all kinds of skills. Kathryn Troutman, a guru in federal resume preparation, defines abilities in Ten Steps to a Federal Job as "the power to perform an activity" with discernible barriers. You have the capability to perform a job function, such as a receptionist or a salesperson.
Kathryn Troutman, author of Federal Resume Guidebook, 3d ed., offers some additional advice about the importance of setting up your KSAs. She definitely believes you should tell a good story. Grab your reader and keep your reader's attention. Doesn't that sound familiar in writing an application letter as well?
Keep that CCAR (Context, Challenge, Actions, and Results)in mind at all times. You want to interest the government reader. Talk in human terms with clarity and simple language. Make your paragraphs on your one-page essay flow. Typically, Kathryn recommends one-half to one full page of a KSA. Think of a KSA as a writing test. You articulate your job knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Can you think of a job-provoking tale about your work experience? Remember you are being graded by the government readers for each KSA you present. "A" probably means highly qualified. "B" means qualified, and C probably means somewhat qualified. Present the job evidence and present it well. No one will believe you haven't lived an interesting life. Write progressively, prove a point, and frame the conclusion carefully. As Troutman would emphasize, you want to end your KSA with applause. Just as in a speech, you want the audience to clap at the right time.
First, you want to drive Context. What are the circumstances and challenges that surrounded your job opportunity? How did you show initiative? How did you perform the job?
Second, let's deal with Challenge. You are interested in tasks and time frames. Ms. Troutman wants you to talk about obstacles you overcame. How did you handle challenges on projects?
Third, specify the Actions. Actions represent detailed steps. What details constitute the job actions you took in a particular challenge? How did you live through the job actions? You must bring your job situation to life.
Fourth, point out the Results. Solutions are what you want. Then, you should quantify those results. How did you make the best decision in spirt of difficult circumstances? Did you receive an award or a thank-you letter? What savings did you achieve? What were tangible benefits to the organization?
Now, you have a brief introduction to the importance of CCAR. It would not hurt to outline your thoughts for each KSA. Ms. Troutman recommends to next sit down and write the opening. The examples can follow at a later time.
You notice two points about writing KSAs for government positions. They are much longer than a few words on a resume. KSAs usually run one-half page or a full page, depending on how much you can say. They are also more involved with heavier use of the "I." KSAs occur in the reader's mind as soon as you see "Ability to," "Knowledge of," "Experience in " or "Possess." All these flags suggest how one has to approach a KSA. You first need a heading before you begin your KSA for every page. The heading consists of the following:
- Name of Agency
Comment: That means the federal agency you are applying to, such as Homeland Security, Federal Communications Commission, or Department of the Army, for examples.
Comment: That means the area of the U.S. or the world where you are applying. It also includes the city and the state. For example, I applied at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for a hypothetical position in fulfilling the Federal certified program requirements for CFRW (Certified Federal Resume Writer).
Comment: That means the job title or the position title of the job opportunity.
- Vacancy Announcement
Comment: That means you must include all the numbers and letters of the announcement as shown either on the official website for the Agency or the official website for the position under the URL, www.usajobs.opm.gov. An example would be: Vacancy Announcement DQF40013.
- Candidate and Social Security Number: (candidate's name and nine-digit number).
The nitty-gritty now needs explaining. You have to sell in your paragraphs of each KSA. You need to give specific instances and specific accomplishments where you have excelled with the KSA. Now, let's take an example from "Ability to Communicate" as one KSA in a government announcement:
Ability to Communicate Orally
Name of Agency
Candidate and Social Security Number
To effectively communicate orally, one has to reach diverse groups, including the profession and the occupation. I know how to reach young people for the last 12 years, especially elementary youngsters in third, fourth, and fifth grades. This reaching involves the ability to communicate goals and encourage students to achieve their potential.
Comment: You will note the candidate is taking the experience from teaching elementary school and relating the need to communicate. The candidate could have been even stronger with a specific instance of how this communicating occurs. Don't spend too much time on your philosophy in the first paragraph. Save that information for a resounding final paragraph. Let's continue the paragraph.
The ability to communicate orally is not confined to youngsters. Periodically, I meet and have demonstrated the ability to communicate with parents about their children's reports, completed homework, and achievements.
Comment: Note what is happening now. The candidate wants to show the government recruiting officer the person understands how to communicate with diverse groups, such as parents and what is communicated. In your instance, if you had this KSA for a particular open position, you could discuss your communicating in professional and civic groups. You could talk about communicating on neighborhood councils. You could mention your communicating if you served as an officer of an on-campus business organization or student union body. All kinds of possibilities exist for effective communicating. Let's go to the next paragraph.
The ability to communicate orally extends to parents' groups at PTA meetings, Back-to-School nights, and other special extracurricular activities. I also take my oral communicating responsibilities seriously by spearheading and chaperoning the Debate Club and the Yearbook Committee. As secretary of the local National Teachers's Association, I effectively communicate minutes, reports and motions to the membership.
Comment: Note the candidate now tries to think of every instance in associations and professional groups where communicating could take place. Instances of oral communication in Debate Club and Yearbook sponsorship would have helped. You have to know yourself before you can write any KSA. It doesn't hurt to sit down and ask yourself questions about what exactly you do in these groups. Then, write the KSA.
To show my continuing growth as an oral communicator, I joined Toastmasters Club in the Valley and also participate with thje Homeowners Association at my condo. All these activities, in the school, in the community, and in the profession show the ability to communicate orally to diverse groups with diverse needs.
Comment: Each KSA has its own page. Never forget that. Don't combine two KSAs on the same page, unless the KSA specifies more than one ability or skill, for instance. You note the last paragraph on this KSA ties in other communication experiences and wraps up how well the person can communicate. You do not repeat words or phrases in KSAs. Make sure every sentence counts and every word counts. You have only so much space to sell your KSA. You cannot go over words or number of pages; the government does not permit that in its vacancy announcement. Proofread your KSAs two and three times before sending them by e-mail attachments or whatever form is preferred. Also, don't forget the government recruiting officers are grading how thorough each KSA is presented.
Recently, I attended a teleseminar (the going rage with telephone and PowerPoint)about "Cool Internet Tools for the Person in Career Transition," designed by Dr. Janet E. Wall from Rockville, Maryland. So often is heard the lament: I don't know where to look for ideas about jobs and bright future jobs. What Dr. Wall gave me (and you) was a roadmap how to find important Web sites and Internet tools that would make that lament less pronounced.
As a person who has briefly used Myers-Briggs assessment tools as a participant in seminars, the Interest Profiler tool recommended by Dr. Wall first caught my attention. With this site, Interest Profiler Work you can find out wheter your profile is realistic, artistic, enterprising, investigative, social, or conventional. The U.S. Department of Labor has helped establish this site.
The U.S. Navy Web site caught my immediate attention as I listened to Dr. Wall's teleseminar. Even if you are not interested in the Navy, you can't go wrong with this site, about leadership,environment, motivation, pursuit, self-identity, drive, change, and competition, that allows you to look at two different sets of photos and decide on their appeal. Once you select the appropriate photo, a profile is built about the characteristics mentioned earlier. It is a delight to study the photos and decide where you fit in your work and career life. Then, the Navy graciously prints a profile called "Your Who I Am Results." The profile can be broadened to answer questions about "Like" and "Dislike," such as "Write a movie script." You will find that Web site about "Accelerate Your Life" on that gives all types of questions on activities, interests, and careers.
I didn't know whether I would like "Jasper" from monster.com. However, because of interest in profiles on my first-year students and how they learn, I listened carefully to what Dr. Wall said about Job Assets and Strengths Profiler. You will find that link for Jasper at about thinkers, dynamos, visionaries, motivators, advocates, organizers, mentors, achievers, and individualists. You can do all kinds of worthwhile activities with Jasper from profiles to description words to clicking on the picture that interests you. For example, in our teleseminar we were shown two pictures of one urban setting and one rural setting. We were asked as participants to decide which ideal work environment, urban or rural, appealed to us.
Every day we hear this outcry: I hate my job. It is devastating to hear this comment, but careerpath.com has a solution for the job-weary transitional individual You can now, according to Dr. Wall, take a Job Satisfaction Survey of 37 questions about how satisfied you are from "Strongly Agree" to "Strongly Disagree" with the assessment. For example, you could talk about agreement with this kind of question: "In my job, I am satisfied with how often I take part in problem solving." With the Web site, you can achieve transition to different jobs or occupations with the results of job satisfaction. A culture is built for you online that tells you your career vision. I think this site has a future to help job applicants.
Career Videos caught my attention in the next part of the teleseminar. You can now view streaming video of career categories, such as resumes, the interview, the job hunt, and transitions. You need to seek out the Web site,career videos, and learn to your heart's content, free of charge from the U.S. Government all kinds of career voyages. You can also learn from the experts about particular companies and their job requirements.
Careertv.com also introduces video resumes, one of my favorite subjects, because the future of resumes is still to be determined. On this Web site, Dr. Wall told us in the teleseminar that positive and negative qualities about the applicant could be noted. Different applicants are pictured on the Web site,video resumes, for positions ranging from engineer to financial adviser as well as manager. You can look at the applicant's appearance as well as what would be attractive to a prospective employer. As was remarked during the teleseminar, video resumes may be especially appropriate for creative fields. It is my understanding that applicants on this site can submit their own video resumes for consideration.
At a recent meeting of the International Association for Business Communication (ABC)in Irvine, California, I was particularly intrigued with a presentation on Mexican resumes intended for Mexico. I was struck with the emphasis on the photograph and the family. Mexican resume readers want to see all details about the family, including pregnancies, number of children, and family connections. I suspect it goes back in Mexican history to the importance of family and the hacendados. In an American resume one would never think to put all that private information.
Brian Nienhaus from Elon University outside of Greensboro, North Carolina presented a paper, "Resume Practices in the U.S. and Mexico," at this same convention. With permission he has allowed me to share some of the more salient points from the presentation. Education is the first requirement Mexican readers like to see. Even high school equivalency is stressed. Education defines the person's place in society in Mexico.
For personal information Mexican resume readers require personal I.D. card and the applicant's social security number. Mexican employers want the experience, but they want you to be young, depending on the type of company.
For a woman preparing a Mexican resume, she needs to reveal her marital status and date of birth. People are treated with respect on Mexican resumes.
Do you need references on a Mexican resume? Absolutely. The more important the personage, the better. At this writing, can you believe Mexican universities, for the most part, do not teach business communications as a separate course? Mostly, duties and responsibilities are stressed on the Mexican resume instead of accomplishments. However, individual initiative is also recognized. The issue of context continues to remain important on a Mexican resume.
Don't forget to check the home page for additional help on any of the communication subjects.
Please check the home pages, especially the links on networking, interviewing, jargon and gobbledygook, and e-mail, for additional help.
Last updated Sunday, May 18, 2008
(c)copyright G. Jay Christensen, 1998, All Rights Reserved