HR Specialist

Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

10 Phrases That Kill Resumes

In Human Resources on August 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm

“10 Boilerplate Phrases That Kill Resumes”

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The 2009 job market is very different from job markets of the past. If you haven’t job-hunted in a while, the changes in the landscape can throw you for a loop.
One of the biggest changes is the shift in what constitutes a strong resume. Years ago, we could dig into the Resume Boilerplate grab-bag and pull out a phrase to fill out a sentence or bullet point on our resume. Everybody used the same boilerplate phrases, so we knew we couldn’t go wrong choosing one of them — or many — to throw into your resume.

Things have changed. Stodgy boilerplate phrases in your resume today mark you as uncreative and “vocabulary challenged.” You can make your resume more compelling and human-sounding by rooting out and replacing the boring corporate-speak phrases that litter it, and replacing them with human language — things that people like you or I would actually say.

Here are the worst 10 boilerplate phrases — the ones to seek out and destroy in your resume as soon as possible:

Results-oriented professional
Cross-functional teams
More than [x] years of progressively responsible experience
Superior (or excellent) communication skills
Strong work ethic
Met or exceeded expectations
Proven track record of success
Works well with all levels of staff
Team player
Bottom-line orientation

You don’t have to write resumes that sound like robots wrote them. A human-voiced resume is the new black — try it!

by: Liz Ryan
The Savvy Networker

What to Include in a Cover Letter

In Human Resources on August 19, 2009 at 12:27 pm

All cover letters should…

Explain why you are sending a resume.
Don’t send a resume without a cover letter. 
Don’t make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific: Do you want a summer internship opportunity, or a permanent position at graduation; are you inquiring about future employment possibilities? 

Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization
— a flyer posted in your department, a web site, a family friend who works at the organization. It is appropriate to mention the name of someone who suggested that you write.

Convince the reader to look at your resume.
The cover letter will be seen first.
Therefore, it must be very well written and targeted to that employer.

Call attention to elements of your background 
  — education, leadership, experience — that are relevant to a position you are seeking. Be as specific as possible, using examples.

Reflect your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm, and communication skills. 
  Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that might not be covered in your resume, such as availability date, or reference to an attached writing sample.

Indicate what you will do to follow-up.
  • In a letter of application — applying for an advertised opening — applicants often say something like “I look forward to hearing from you.” However, if you have further contact info (e.g. phone number) and if the employer hasn’t said “no phone calls,” it’s better to take the initiative to follow-up, saying something like, “I will contact you in the next two weeks to see if you require any additional information regarding my qualifications.”
  • In a letter of inquiry — asking about the possibility of an opening — don’t assume the employer will contact you. You should say something like, “I will contact you in two weeks to learn more about upcoming employment opportunities with (name of organization).”  Then mark your calendar to make the call.

Deceptive Targets in the Job Hunt

In Human Resources on August 19, 2009 at 12:20 pm

5 Methods That Waste Your Time

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Time is money — whether you’ve got a job or not. While it may be tempting to chase down every possibility when you’re searching for work, don’t. Many can lead you down a blind alley — where you may lose the contents of your wallet.

A focused search using tried and true methods, especially networking, will lead to your next job, not tactics that smack of desperation.

Avoid these five job-hunting “don’ts” that will yield the poorest of results, according to leading workplace advisor Liz Ryan.

1. Spray and pray

Don’t blindly send your resume unsolicited, electronically or otherwise, to any company without first making verbal contact. Says Ryan, founder of AskLizRyan.com, “Tossing out un-customized cover letters and undifferentiated resumes in huge volumes and crossing your fingers is a job-search non-starter. That doesn’t work, and it hasn’t worked in 10 years, or more.” Establish a connection before sending a customized cover letter and, adds Ryan, “You can even customize your resume if a job opening calls for it.”

2. Stand in line for a job fair

Admits Ryan, “Sad to say, but most job fairs are a waste of time. Avoid the huge cattle call-type job fairs where zillions of employers have booths, yet no one is taking resumes.” There are some job fairs that have value. Ryan, a former human resources executive, points to company-specific open hours and college placement job fairs. Tap your network to learn if anyone can recommend worthwhile fairs. “Ask around before you head off to a job fair or risk having your time wasted and your ego dashed.”

3. Earn certifications nobody wants
It’s common to feel less-than-confident in your skills if you’re having a hard time finding work, but don’t rush out to spend money on any additional training unless you’re certain it will yield improved results. Ryan reveals, “Before you sign up for a certification training program, check the job boards to make sure that employers are asking for it. There’s no sense investing time and money in a certification no one wants.”

If you’re getting the hard-sell from an educational institution, Ryan says, “Ask the people at the school that’s doing the certifying, ‘Which local employers have hired your graduates in the past year?’ If they can’t tell you, run away.”

4. Pay a headhunter
Don’t dole out money to any kind of recruiter or sign a contract agreeing to do so. “Real headhunters, also known as search consultants or third-party recruiters, won’t take your money. They get paid by employers to fill open jobs.” She warns, “If a recruiter calls or emails you to say s/he’s got jobs open, and then invites you to his or her office for a counseling session and presents you with a range of career-coaching services, bolt for the exit. Real search professionals won’t take a dime from their candidates.”

5. Sign up with a resume fax-blast service
This old-school — and desperate — tactic is a total turn-off to potential employers and smacks of spam. Ryan says, “Services that send out hundreds or thousands of your resumes might have been worthwhile 20 years ago. Today, they’re worse than pointless, because it irks employers to get unsolicited resumes. Forget the fax-blast services and do your own careful research to reach decision-makers with messages they actually want to hear.”

by Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs

Communicating Your Way to Success

In Human Resources on August 19, 2009 at 12:07 pm

TIPS TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION AND GET AHEAD IN YOUR CAREER

The following are important communication basics that are essential for every competent business person. Learn to do them well, and your chances of success in the workplace will increase dramatically.

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1. Use “I” statements.                                                                                                                                     Begin sentences with “I need,” “I want,” or “I feel.” People will understand you more clearly if you take ownership of your directives.

2. Be Specific and Complete.
Make sure you carefully outline your expectations. Describe exactly how a task must be completed
(unless you’re encouraging the individual to finish the job creatively). When appropriate, write down
your expectations. If you’re not clear, you can’t expect others to anticipate what you want.

3. Don’t Mix Verbal and Nonverbal Messages.
Body language is a major part of communicating. If you are happy but have a cross look on your
face, no one will know exactly what message you are trying to convey.

4. Be Redundant.
If someone does not understand your message, think of new ways to present the information.
Remember that people can learn by seeing, by hearing, and by doing. You can reach your audience faster if you use the words they mentally tune into most comfortably. For example, those who learn by seeing respond to, “What does the ideal job look like to you?” Those who learn by hearing understand statements such as, “What does it sound like in your ideal office?” Those who learn by doing respond to, “What does your ideal job feel like?”

5. Ask for Feedback.
Check to ensure that all communication you send is understood. If it’s written material, ask the recipient to respond. If you are speaking, ask the listener to repeat your message. A simple, “tell me in your own words what you think I said,” allows you to find out immediately if the message was received correctly.

6. Present Single Ideas.
One idea is easier to grasp then several ideas presented at once. State a series of thoughts on one topic in a logical sequence that is easy to understand and follow. After explaining each element, confirm that the listener understands you before moving on to the next thought.

7. Avoid Judgment.
To keep the lines of communication open, give feedback without judgment. People won’t provide information if they believe their message will be judged unfairly. Attentive listening is critical, and if you’re unclear about a statement or a circumstance, always ask for clarification. It’s important to avoid formulating conclusions until you have all the facts.