Monday, March 2, 2009

Five things you can do to "enhance your career." (Day Two)

Update your resume. Even if you do not anticipate changing jobs. In an economy as uncertain as the current one, that decision may be made for you. In the few years, we have hired several positions and I am always struck by the care some applicants give to their credentials and the absolute lack of attention to detail by others. Sadly, for some candidates, all we ever saw of them was their incomplete, out of date resume. A few common mistakes.

Titles or promotions.
If a prospective employer cannot reasonably identify your job title, he or she may not be able to determine if the duties you list make sense. (Were you doing too little or over achieving... one is good. The other, not so much.) If your title changed or you were promoted, add it.

Awards & Honors.
I have a friend who received a teaching award from the Panhellenic Council at the small university at which he taught. A few years later, he asked me to look at his resume before starting a job search. I brought it to his attention and he said, "Well, it wasn't really that big a deal. It seemed about as important as that little summer research grant." After some further discussion, I reminded him that he had asked my advice and that both should be included. He sent me an email a few months later to tell me that he had gotten a new position and to admit that the subject of the no-big-deal-teaching-award and the little-summer-research-grant had both come up in his interview. You never know.

Phone numbers and emails.
You know, as recently as four years ago, I was advising students to use their university email addresses as long as possible. It has now become very accepted practice to have a "portable" email address with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoomail, etc. (As an aside here, if your portable email ID is HotPartyMama@yahoo.net, consider something a little more sedate, like, Your.Name@zippymail.org. Some people have absolutely no sense of humor.)

Same thing goes for phone numbers. In the not too distance past, listing your office number, home number, mobile number, fax number created a sort of telephonic tour de force. Remember my admonition about interviewers looking for a reason to deselect you? Give them four phone numbers and they will simply move on. My best advice these days is just give your cell number... for most active job searchers, it's the one you answer the most anyway. Oh yeah, you don't need to tell them that it is your cell... they don't care. Just list the ten digit number. They're smart. They'll figure out what it is and if they don't, you don't want to be working for them anywayl.

General house cleaning.
Use this time to get rid of the high school awards you garnered back in '91, along with the really fancy font that you chose when you were using Windows 3.0 and remember, just because you have 193 fonts on your computer, that doesn't mean you have to use them all. Ditch the ultra-fancy paper... they're just gonna photocopy it anyway.


Basic Rule of Thumb.
Simple + Professional + Elegant = Easy to read.
Easy to read = Less likely to get tossed.

So, pull out your resume now. Really, now. Update it and put a note in your calendar to do it again six months from now.

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