Archive for the ‘Changing Careers’ Category
All too often data in resumes is presented quite vaguely, leaving the hiring manager to wonder what the candidate really knows and what skills s/he actually has. This is especially true regarding computer skills, whether the applicant is an office worker or an IT professional.
For example, an office worker may feel it’s enough to list skills in this manner: Technically proficient in Microsoft Office and other software.
After reading the above, the hiring manager may very well wonder what other software? What part of Microsoft Office—all or only Word and Excel? And, what version?
When your data raises more questions than it answers, it’s no longer effective. To maximize your information, be specific. For example, the previous statement should say this:
Technically proficient in Microsoft Office (Premium 2000), including Word, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, Access, PowerPoint, Front Page, and Photo Draw. Additional expertise in Word Perfect, Quicken, Peachtree Accounting, Lexis-Nexus, and Westlaw.
At a glance, the above provides instant and specific data to a hiring manager. However, a candidate—especially in the IT field—should go one step further by providing years or months of experience.
In today’s competitive job market, hiring managers demand that information on resumes be well-prioritized and specific. It’s not enough to state that you have proficiency in Microsoft Word. You must state how many months or years of experience you have or your level of expertise, whether it’s beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Hiring managers will not call you for an interview, nor will they test your skills unless they are first provided this essential data.
The nature of IT is ever-evolving. Therefore, an IT professional should showcase relevant skills as specifically and completely as possible.
Organize technical data into subheadings such as:
- Operating Systems
- Programming Languages
- Software Packages
- Any other technical proficiencies
One way to present this data would be a simple listing. For example:
- LAN Administration: Windows 2000 Server, Windows NT 3.51/4.0, Novell 3.12/4.1
- Operating Systems: Windows 2000/NT/XP, Windows 98/95, Macintosh OS
- Software: Microsoft SQL, SNA, SMS , Site Server & IIS, CA XCOM, SAS, Microsoft Visual Studio, Source Safe, Cognos Enterprise Server, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, AS/400-Windows Connectivity Applications, cc:Mail , Multiple Windows Communications Applications
- Productivity Software: Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Project
- Hardware: PCs, Compaq Servers, HP NetServers, IBM NetFinity Servers, AS400 20, SCO Unix OpenServer, Macintosh
- Certifications: Candidate for MCDBA, Candidate for CCNA/CCDA, Candidate for MCSE, Microsoft Certified System Administrator, Novell Certified Administrator, Novell Certified Engineer
An even more effective way to maximize technical data is to provide specific information in an easy-to-read format. For example:
Oracle 8/8i/9i, 4 years
SQL Server 6.5/7.0/2000, 6 years
Microsoft Access, 6 years
MySQL, 6 months
UNIX , 4 years
LINUX, 4 years
Windows Operating Systems, 12 years
DOS, 12 years
Macintosh, 4 years
ShellScript, 3 years
PL/SQL, 4 years
ASP, 5 years
JAVA/JSP, 1 year
DHTML, 3 years
SQL Navigator, 4 years
TOAD, 2 years
Oracle *Net, 4 years
Import/Export, 3 years
SQL *Loader, 3 years
Enterprise Manager, 3 years
Performance Manager, 2 years
The above example is specific yet easy to read and understand quickly and enhances an applicant’s candidacy for an IT position.
You’ve heard the hype about the economy—there aren’t any jobs to be had, and things are tough all over the country. But since when do you listen to the naysayers?
Sure, you’re not going to step out of college and into a CFO position, but you’re also not stepping into a part-time job selling hot dogs on the side of the road. Being realistic about your opportunities goes both ways, and the most fatal mistake job seekers make is selling themselves short.
Congratulations, you have a college degree! Maybe you weren’t in the top of your class with a full academic scholarship, but you have a higher education, and that means something to hiring managers. What it means exactly is that you have the latest information about your field of study. You’ve most likely worked with cutting-edge technology. And, you’re not so set in your ways that you can’t be trained. This gives you a distinct advantage over people who aren’t fresh out of school. When you go to interviews, remember this.
College graduates have something many other job applicants don’t have. Enthusiasm! All things being equal, someone with a positive attitude will get the job over someone who is jaded, indifferent, or world weary. It’s not all about what you know. It’s also about who you are. Show hiring managers that you’re someone other people would want to work with.
Employers are looking for long-term investments and are hopeful that you will be loyal to their company. When they ask you what your five-year plan is, don’t tell them that you hope to be traveling in Europe, nor should you point to the company president and say, “I want to be there.” Consider your audience.
Don’t be so confident that you think everyone should want you. Always tailor your resume and cover letter for each position. Follow up with a phone call. If you don’t hear from the employer in four weeks, send another letter with another resume. Call again. Don’t give up until you’ve heard a definitive answer. If it’s a “no,” send a thank you letter anyway to ask that they keep you in mind for any future positions. Repeat for each job search. If you want an employer to see you’re willing to go the extra mile, show them up front.
Being a realist when it comes to job searching is hard work. Sure, it takes work to get work. But landing a job and putting yourself on the road to a successful career is worth it.
Few things are as disheartening to a professional as being fired, but there are ways to update your resume to make it an effective marketing tool.
- Use the resume format to downplay the loss of a job.
Instead of using a reverse chronological format that accentuates employment dates, use a functional format that showcases what you know rather than where you attained that expertise. For example, an accountant would highlight skills in reconciling accounts, generating tax returns, implementing internal controls, etc. The fact that these skills were attained at XYZ Company is minimized because employer names are not mentioned until the very end of the resume.
- Use dates of employment to your advantage.
If you were fired from a job of short duration that fell within the same year as your last position, it can be completely excluded. For example:
- You worked at ABC Company from March to September of 2010.
- Before that, you worked at DEF Company from July of 2002 to February of 2010.
Simply list the second company (DEF) with the years of employment (2002-2010). This will show an unbroken employment record.
- Never explain on a resume that you were fired.
As much as hiring managers want to be fair and open-minded, they are only human and will likely, at first glance, wish to dismiss any candidate who has been fired. Therefore, listing your firing or any explanation of it on your resume is not in your best interest. Since your cover letter and resume will be the first place a hiring manager will evaluate your fit for the job, do the best you can using the above suggestions for resume development to offset the impact of your firing. If you are a candidate who then reaches the interview process, you will have a better opportunity to explain the full situation in as positive a light as possible, if the firing comes up during the interview.
- Don’t confuse being laid off or let go due to downsizing as being fired.
Your company being bought out by another firm and you being let go is not the same as being fired. If your position has been eliminated (for whatever reason), you weren’t technically fired. Hiring managers tend to look at “being fired” as a negative that was caused by the employee (e.g., he or she stole company funds, was always late to work, didn’t fulfill daily duties, etc.) It’s important to note the distinction and to list jobs from which you were laid off on your resume when economic conditions, beyond your control, were a factor.
- Move forward by showcasing your positive attributes.
If the industry you’re working in is a small one and everyone knows about your job loss, then it’s essential to showcase the positive (what you achieved at the job or what you learned), and to minimize the negative (confrontations with management or co-workers). During your job search is not the time to prove that you were treated unfairly at the last company; rather, it’s the time to prove to a potential new company that you can excel because of your unique set of skills and qualifications.