Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If the job fits

The hard truth about job hunting is that the best job in the world may not be the right job for you.

After your write an excellent resume and cover letter, after you apply for that job that looks good on paper, after you research the company and complete your interview preparation, after you ace the interview -- then you need to know what you want out of the job, the bosses, the workplace, and the company. You need to be able to ask questions that will tell you whether the company's answers match up with what you need to be an excellent employee. And you need to have the strength to walk away if the answers don't match.

Conversely, you need to be ready to hear that you won't be getting the job. Because after you write and excellent resume and cover letter, and after you ace the interview, you may still not be the right person for the job based on any number of criteria that your interviewer can't quantify. Or you might be 99 percent right for the job, but another candidate is 102 percent right for the job.

In other words, it's all about fit.

It's difficult to determine whether a position will fit you when you have only an hour or so to talk with your potential boss. It's a bit like going on a blind date and getting married after dinner! Both you and the hiring manager are trying to make the best decision possible in a high-pressure situation, and much of it hangs on the intangible concept of fit. To a degree, "fit" is like pornography -- job seekers and hiring managers feel that they will "know it when they see it." And much like dating, sometimes the attraction is one-sided.

Job seekers, the best way to determine whether a job is the right fit for you is to listen to what your gut says. If you've done your research before the interview, and asked your important questions during the interview, then you have done all you can do on that score. The rest of it is in the hiring manager's hands. If the hiring manager determines that you're not the right fit for the job, believe it, and move on.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Resume writing: How to get started

Career Hub, a blog written by a consortium of resume/career counseling professionals, is one of the top blogs out there in this field. I have relied on the site's information heavily during my own job searches, and I recommend the group's free e-books to all of my resume clients.

Billie Sucher, a career transition consultant, recently wrote a Career Hub post that sums up what you need to do before you write a resume -- and it has nothing to do with making a list of the places you've worked. Every word she writes here is pure gold!

Whether you're writing a resume yourself or you plan to work with a resume writer, you need to read this post and answer Billie's questions before you can begin. The five questions are:
  1. What is my purpose for doing a professional resume?
  2. What are my top job targets or goals?
  3. What is the brand message I wish to deliver to my reader?
  4. What conclusion(s) do I intentionally want my readers to draw after reading my resume?
  5. Have I devised a good strategy that makes it easy for the reader (aka stranger) to understand me, my purpose, and my most relevant, essential and supportive credentials that best qualify me for the job opportunity?
It is not enough to want a job these days. Companies want to hire people who are committed to and passionate about their work. Job seekers need to want to work in a specific field, or for a specific company, or both -- and they need to be able to explain why. The resume is the first place you can show that passion.

In order to have a resume that works for you, you need to know what you bring to a position and what you want out of it. If you answer Billie's questions and share those answers in how you craft your resume, you will get interviews -- and the answers to her questions will help you answer similar questions during the interviews.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'm back

I had planned on shutting down my blog for the rest of 2008. But things have changed, as they do, and I'm working on changing with them.

My Mom died on May 8, 2008. I was holding her hand. She went in peace and without pain, and I'm glad for that. What happens next, for me and for my family, is the hard part.

In the wake of my Mom's death, I'm doing what all the experts say you shouldn't do: changing my life. I'm taking some time off from working this summer, to feel my feelings and figure out what I want my life to look like for this next little bit. Part of my thinking has led me back here, to this blog, and back to writing.

I left an 11-year journalism career in 2006, and since then, I have worked as an administrative assistant in advertising and human resources. What I have learned from those experiences is that, overwhelmingly, I am a writer. I can be an assistant, because I'm adept at managing details and organization (and love doing both), but I respond to all work situations with questions -- as I did as a journalist/writer/editor. It's not just how I think, either; it's my best skill. I'm good at it, and I do love to do it. I seem to have gotten over the burnout that plagued me even a few months ago. I want to do this again.

I also want to nurture my interest in HR, recruiting and the entire job-hunting process. For the last year, I 've been reading the HR bloggers listed in my blog roll, and they've taught me a tremendous amount about all things HR. I hope to add my voice to theirs through this blog.

Make a Change Resumes began as my resume-writing business venture. I'm not writing resumes for hire just yet, but that could come. I'm restarting this blog with the hope of sharing tips and information on resume writing, job hunting, interviewing and closing the deal. My goals and focus could change over time, but that's the beauty of life -- it's all about making changes.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Blog suspended for one year

Hi all,

My recovery from emergency back surgery has gone well. I'm almost fully healed -- I can touch my toes! It's very exciting.

However, I have decided to shut this blog down until January 2009. I've realized that I need some time away from writing. I was a burned-out writer in 2006 when I left the newspaper industry, and somehow, I haven't stopped writing since. So I'm taking some time off in hopes that my excitement for blogging will be renewed.

Also, as some of you know, my mother has been battling lung cancer for 16 months now. She doesn't have too much longer to go, and as I no longer live in my hometown, I'm trying to travel more to see her. I have a feeling that 2008 is going to be emotionally taxing in a way that won't leave much time for extra-curricular career activities.

I'm writing you this note to explain my absence, as I do not want to delete this blog entirely, which means that anyone who uses Google can find it. There's some good information here for job-hunters, and I hope that if you stumble across this blog that you'll find information that helps you. I've loved working on this blog, and I hope I'll return next year.

In the meantime, enjoy the archives and recommended links!