I’m new to this whole “Work Force” game. Yes, I’ve looked for jobs, been interviewed, hired and occasionally hired back. However, as far as a member of the “working class” goes, I’m new. I proudly identified myself as a student for most of my life, before then, “child” suited me just fine as a label.
So, what’s a new member of the “Work Force” to do? Fantasize about a team of superheroes able to answer phones, collate copies and make presentations to the board of directors at lightening speed? Nope. That fantasy doesn’t hold up well for long.
Instead, I’ve made mistakes… several mistakes, and I’m willing to post them on the Internet for the benefit of entertaining you, Career Options reader! Thus, my blog postings are premised on the idea that mistakes are A) more entertaining and B) a source of greater learning than successes. Although successes make for better drinking excursions.
There is no particular order to this list, just typing them in as they pop into the ol’ brainpan.
Read job postings carefully.
Sounds obvious, and it is. If you know you really don’t want to work over night shifts or until at least 1am, and the job ad says, “You will have to work overnight shifts, or until at least 1am”, it’s not in your best interests to apply for the job.
This will save you an awkward conversation when a potential employer calls you, excited at your immaculately crafted resume only to find that you’re not big on details immediately available online. This kind of conversation only makes HR people upset that you’ve wasted their time. Trust me.
So, for not applying to jobs you don’t really want (for example, I hate working overnight shifts and becoming as Michael Stipe so wonderfully wrote a “Daysleeper”) you save your time and energy for positions that you really want. You also save some HR employee an extra bit of energy. While you may never meet this person maybe someday you’ll be at a bar celebrating your new job and REM’s “Day Sleeper” will come on the stereo at last call, and you can strike up a conversation with this mysterious HR person, and that HR person will buy you your last drink of the evening.
Ok, this is highly unlikely, but it’s still good advice. And REM’s “Daysleeper” is still a great song.
All through high school, I felt an affinity to the generation before mine rather than my own. Nickelback couldn’t satiate my angst, and instead I turned to Nirvana.
While there are numerous reasons why I can’t and won’t be a part of generation X, my date of birth being one prime example, the goods that came from its ranks had a great influence over my formative years. One result of this is my tendency towards slacking off, a trait (or cliché) frequently attached to Generation X.
I don’t enjoy pressure but I do seem to thrive off it. In university, I never pulled an all-nighter. I came close a couple of times, but I always made sure I got at least a couple of hours of sleep. I did well enough through university to graduate with highest honours, and I’d like to think that is reflected in my work.
The thing that always surprised me about papers were the last minute details, you know, page numbers, headers, footnotes, title pages. Invariably there would be one or two details that would escape me, or cause me trouble last minute. I’ve handed in papers with (professional looking) hand drawn numbers at the bottom of each page. I’ve crafted title pages that have alternatively garnered such comments as “This title is the best part of your paper” and, on the other side of the scale, simply “Ugh.” Guess which title page I crafted in the final thirty seconds before I handed the paper in.
All this to say that I’ve found if I give my resume and cover letter the same last minute treatment, it hasn’t worked in my favour. The same problems arise as with papers, it’s not the spelling and grammar, but instead things like formatting that become big problems. It’s something I never thought a great deal about until I was desperate to be employed (it’s more or less a constant state for me when I’ve been unemployed).
I decided to run my resume past a complete stranger to see if he had any pointers. The best piece of advice he gave to me was, “Don’t be afraid to make your resume look good.”
Yes, your CV should look professional, but dress it up some. Most tips are obvious enough, like “don’t write in paragraphs”. HR people read many, many resumes in a day so formatting yours as a dissertation on why you’re the best possible candidate may not work well for you. So, bullet points are good, maybe find some that catch the eye. And for your own sake, don’t use Times New Roman or Courier New type face- the most boring available they practically induce comas. I highly recommend browsing some books on resumes at the library. Just make sure they’re recent, you probably don’t need to know what a fax-machine technician’s resume looks like.
So, after you’ve double-checked spellings, make sure everything is formatted well. I’ve transferred my resume to another computer to print and not checked thoroughly enough, only to notice that sentences were split between two lines throughout the document. Unfortunately, I noticed this just as I was handing it over to my potential employer in an interview. Thankfully she already had a copy (sans mistake) and I chose not to let her know that I can be kind of a slacker, sometimes.
Do you have any stories about editing or formatting? Do you have people read your resume before you print it? What’s the best resume advice you’ve been given?