Posts

The “Discouraged Worker”—July 2, 2010 Unemployment Data

Like most in my trade—and most of you out there looking for work—I keep my eyes and ears open to the new monthly data on unemployment. I have heard all sorts of spins on the data most recently available from the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics (BLS). In fact, you could hear the glee in reporters’ scribbling as they happily reported the declining unemployment rate, currently at 9.5%, down from 9.7%.

I wanted to delve a bit deeper into the unemployment statistics. The report used a term we’re probably not too familiar with as a statistic, but we all know the punch-in-the-gut feeling it represents: “Discouraged workers.”

According to the BLS, discouraged workers are those who have ceased to search for work because they believe that there are no jobs out there that are suitable for them. The BLS statement reports that the number of discouraged workers has increased an incredible 289% to 1.2 million over the last 12 months.

To translate, that means that the number of people who have simply given up for lack of finding a job has almost tripled in the last year. This statistic differs from the number of unemployed, as “unemployed” assumes that those counted are actively seeking work. The discouraged worker surrendered to the poor economy.

Are You Discouraged?
If you are reading this blog post, you’re probably one of two things: You’re interested in the job market and actively seeking as well as shocked by the idea that things could get so bad you, too, might give up. Or you are, truly, a discouraged worker, and you’ve decided to give it one more shot.

Don’t Give Up! Get Connected to Career Resources
Regardless of how you see yourself at this very moment, don’t give up. My advice is the same. There are resources that can help you. If you need a resume, let us know. If you need career advice, we can help you with that, too. If you want to scrap your current career path and start over, let us find you a professional who can deconstruct where you’ve been and help you figure out where you want to go. If you already know all of that, and you simply need a recruiter who knows your specific industry, send us a note, and we’ll connect you with someone we know personally.

If you have a great resource, let us know why it’s incredible (it might even be you!), and we’ll add it (or you) to  my favorite career resources page .

Amy L. Adler, MBA, MA, CARW, is president and founder of Inscribe / Express and your partner in your job search. She writes exceptional resumes and cover letters that get interviews for savvy job seekers. Inscribe / Express is a full-service career documentation company and provides a 3-day turnaround time for resumes and cover letters. Contact us at 801-810-JOBS to speak one-on-one with a professional resume writer.

Soft Skills—The New Hard Skills?

Do Resume Writers Need to Unlearn Conventional Wisdom?

Imagine my surprise while perusing a recent copy of Newsweek, when I read an article called “Does the World Still Have Talent?”

thinking

Thinking about change--How adaptable are you?

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/05/27/does-the-world-still-have-talent.html. Most of the article reflected the idea that with the tremendous unemployment currently plaguing our economy, companies are still having huge problems recruiting the very executives who might be able to lead them through these tough times. Growing companies in emerging markets are having a particularly tough time keeping up with their management needs.

So the most striking comment in the article became the following, which related to individual adaptability on top of superior technical skills:

[S]kills that were previously seen as gloss on the CV—adaptability, foreign-language skills, ease in other cultures—are part of the core job description of managers.

Unlearning What We Think We Know as Resume Writers

Clearly, these types of comments have serious implications for the way we resume writers do our jobs, and as our client bases become more and more internationalized. We need to ensure that we include these types of soft skills as well as the more “wonky” (as Newsweek called them) technology skill sets. How hard will this be for us as a group? I imagine it will be pretty tough to teach old dogs new tricks; we need to adapt with the times, keep our own knowledge abreast with changing times, and, as always, produce top-tier career documentation that will get the interviews our clients need for the jobs they want.

Thoughts from resume writers and job seekers alike are welcome.

Amy L. Adler, MBA, MA, CARW, is the owner and president of Inscribe / Express, professional provider of career documentation. Contact Amy at for a free consultation about methods to improve your resume.

Demonstrate “Excellence” in Your Resume

Excellence in Personal Branding

BusinessWeek.com just posted an article on excellence. I remember the old book In Search of Excellence from the early 1980s, and personal branding strategist Dan Schawbel reminds of us of the power of that book. He takes the concept to a new level, however, in addressing personal excellence as a means to ensuring professional value in the marketplace.

I’d like to take this one step further by marrying the idea of personal branding in the job search with resume writing.

To start, the value of personal branding in a resume is well-reasoned. Resumes used to be a list of everything a job applicant used to do in the job. In fact, a recent resume client of mine joked—wistfully— that she used to simply copy her job descriptions into her resume, and that was enough to secure her the interviews she wanted.

The resume process evolved to using something we all know as the “objective statement.” Writing an objective statement was tantamount to requesting a perfect fit from an employer. This was probably easier to do when the unemployment rate was lower than its current 9.7% and companies were scrambling to fill their open positions before the operation down the street grabbed the best people.

Summary statements advanced from these objective statements to become an amalgamation of qualifications. Better than the objective statement, this technique is still used in many cases today, but I doubt you’d find a resume writer willing to write a summary statement.  Good resume writers are more likely to use the personal branding statement—a concise self-evaluation that succinctly identifies the reason a candidate is uniquely qualified to exceed every single one of a hiring manager’s expectations.

This is Schawbel’s “excellence,” translated into the process of achieving a job (rather than his explanation of the best way to keep the one you have). Your personal branding statement has to demonstrate in about the length of time it takes to read this sentence exactly why you, and only you, are the right person to jump into the position today and take it to new levels beyond which the ordinary candidate could not possibly go.

Can you do this? Are you that candidate? I bet you are—you just need to show it in your resume.  Your well-crafted personal branding statement will sing the tune the hiring manager wants to hear.

 

7 Words You Can’t Say in a Resume

You won’t impress hiring managers with bland language. Show them, don’t tell them

  • what you have done
  • why your experience is phenomenal
  • how you can hit the ground running on the first day of your new job.

You’re an extraordinary candidate: Present your career history in extraordinary terms!

Want to amaze your reader? AVOID using these 7 words in your resume—choose action-oriented, powerful verbs that demonstrate why you’re the best person for the job.

1. Responsible for

Responsibility is a good thing. Taking responsibility is also a good thing. Passively suggesting that you were somehow involved in some activity at your place of work? Not such a good thing. Explain how you project managed a sales project yielding 35% ROI, jump-started new a new promotional technique, or delivered top-line revenue increases.

2. Managed

To manage a task means to control it, guide it, or, in the case of people, coach or mentor them. To manage to do something, however, implies just getting by, a capability that no job candidate wishes to offer a hiring manager who doesn’t have time to waste on apparent slackers.

3. Acted as

This one makes one wonder if the candidate was really doing X or Y, or was he simply acting that way. Substitute engaged as, in the case of a candidate’s being asked to do something apart from his standard job description (think: consulting engagement).

4. Grew

Flowers grow, and gardeners grow flowers. I tend to think that if it’s not organic with stems full of leafy greens, it’s not going to grow. Try increased or generated. Even enlarged will work, in the case of territories or markets. Developed is a good possibility as well.

5. Was involved

Like “responsible for,” this one brings to mind someone who stood and watched from the sidelines. Spice up your accomplishments by telling the recruiter or hiring manager how you identified a new sales opportunity, introduced a new method of communicating across silos, or piloted an investigative project that ultimately yielded $5 million in new business.

6. Bring

“Bring” implies hand delivery, but your resume is a professional, not personal, document. Give displayed, demonstrated, arranged, or exhibited a try to emphasize your strengths in accomplishing any of the foregoing.

7. Assisted

Even if you think you only helped to accomplish a project, demonstrate through careful and strong writing how you teamed with executive management or collaborated with division director to introduce a new product or process.

Contact Inscribe / Express for a free analysis of the language you use in your resume. Is it powerful enough? Will you convince a recruiter or hiring manager to call?

Cover Letters, Part II: Cover Letters Shouldn’t be Boring

Want Your Resume to Be Noticed?

Make Your Cover Letter Shine

I wrote earlier about a job application process I was managing (it was weird to be on the other side of the desk for a change!). Of the approximately one third of applications that I received with cover letters, about half or so included generic and unimpressive varieties. The applicants had an idea that they needed to send something with their resumes, but their techniques did not hit the right tone or level of appropriateness. These letters looked a lot like this one, which is word for word (although anonymized for the purpose of reprinting):

Dear Hiring Department;

I am excited to apply for the Employment supervisor for youth w/mental health issues (in your city) that has been advertised. While my resume will provide you with an outline of my education and experience; the following information highlights additional personal and professional strengths:

  • Creative, resourceful, and flexible; able to adapt to changing priorities, maintain a positive work attitude and strong work ethic.
  • Expert juggler of multiple projects and achieving on-time completion of various projects, while exceeding expectations.
  • Excellent anticipatory skills; adept at foreseeing unanticipated problems.
  • A clear, concise, and logical communicator; competent at building rapport with clients and colleagues.

Please find attached my resume for your further review.  A cover letter and resume cannot possibly tell you if I am the right candidate for your position, so I look forward to hearing from you in the future, for a more personable meeting.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[Applicant name]

Can you imagine my reaction to this type of letter? It certainly beat the type sent by the other half, which hardly referenced the position at all, making the candidate sound like he or she was simply blanketing the universe with resumes (one simply included the words “Thank you.”). The only thing keeping me from sleeping through this letter was its impossibly bad format, which made me want to see how awful it was going to get. I also noticed the terrible grammar and formatting, which certainly did not endear the candidate to me.

Of course, my point is that your resume and cover letter should look nothing like the foregoing. It should be engaging, succinct, and address the hiring manager’s needs, not yours. Your professional resume and cover letter writer knows how to select the right language that will make the hiring manager or recruiter want to read your career documentation, so if you don’t feel confident that your skills are in promoting your area of expertise, you might want to consider hiring someone who does this every day.

How to Drive a CAR through Your Resume

Imagine this scenario: You’re driving in your car. The car is about three years old. It’s in pretty good shape—never needed any major repairs. You realize that your brakes are getting soft. You ask yourself, “Should I repair my own brakes, or should I take it to the car mechanic? Which is a more valuable use of my time?”

Now, maybe some of you out there are weekend grease monkeys. Maybe you have lifts, used auto parts, and skills. But if you’re like me, you probably have no idea what to check, how to think about what parts you need, or what repairs to make (is it the brakes? the shoes? the rotors?). And you have no idea if any of your repair attempts will get your car in working order.

Let’s go out on a limb and suggest that you’re an expert in your field, just not in car repair. Likely you’re not an expert in resume writing, either. Take your car to the mechanic, and take your job search to the next level by hiring a Certified Advanced Resume Writer to get your job search on track.

When you hire a professional resume writer, you get specific one-on-one attention to your personal history. Professional resume writers know the kinds of questions to ask to elicit the best accomplishments that belong on a resume. We work with executives, professionals, and entry-level candidates, tailoring our interviews to the specific needs of each client.

Once a resume professional has the best information about the client’s best expertise, she writes the resume to highlight the ways that the client is the best candidate for the job. She will take advantage of training, certifications, and the best practices the resume industry has to offer to develop a tailored marketing package that gets interviews.

If you’re not a car mechanic, you probably want an expert to slide under your car. If you’re a job seeker, you want an expert professional resume writer to develop career documents that get you the interview you deserve. Contact Inscribe / Express to find out how a professional resume writer can improve your job search success.

For more information about collaborating with a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, visit my site: www.inscribeexpress.com.