Job Seekers Readiness Guide

Unemployment�s high and competition is tough. Here are five key areas that can give you the edge in the job market

Your Résumé
Restructuring your résumé can get you the job you want with the skills and experience you already have.

Owens

Out of Work: Anthony Owens, a 44-year-old father of two, was laid off from a local government job as the Treasury Director for the Texas Water Development Board in 2008.

New Position: Executive director of procurement at Austin Community College, where he oversees all the colleges’ contractual obligations including contract negotiations and purchasing activities, assuring adherence to all state purchasing rules and regulations. In addition, he manages warehouse operations including central receiving and shipping, campus mail services, and fixed asset management.

His  Challenge: With a background in finance and accounting, Owens pigeonholed himself to jobs in just those areas, but at the time, “those jobs simply were not there,” Owens recalls. His résumé presented a challenge because it showcased limited abilities. “The revamping of my résumé was out of necessity in order to compete.”

His Strategy: Owens chose career coach Catherine Jewell, author of New Résumé New Career, (Penguin Group (USA) Inc.; $16.95) to restructure his résumé. “That was the first time I had ever gone through any kind of layoff,” says Owens. “Having Catherine as a sounding board really helped.”

The Result: After a line-by-line revamping of his résumé with Jewell, Owens realized he had a wide breadth of experience from past jobs that included a few years as a business development manager at a local private college, where he honed his administrative and managerial skills. “Catherine was able to play up on experiences so there was less emphasis on the finance and more on the administrative side of things.”

Three months later, a friend called about a temporary position in the contracts division at the local community college. During his six-month stint, Owens developed a relationship with the executive vice president and learned of the executive director opening. When asked for his résumé, Owens felt comfortable that it communicated his qualifications for the job.

What You Need to Know
At a time when many job seekers are asking if résumés are still relevant, Jewell asserts that résumés are still the calling card for any job seeker. “The way to maximize your résumé is to see it as a marketing document,” says Jewell. “Remember the résumé’s purpose: to get an interview. A great résumé gets an interview; a great interview gets a job.” Jewell advises her clients to be strategic when choosing a résumé format: chronological, functional, or combination. Chronological résumés detail work history, beginning with the most recent position. Jewell explains chronological résumés work best for those who can show steady growth with a continuity of either functional or industry success. Functional résumés focus on the professional skill sets related to the job you seek, grouping your skills in three to five broad categories and highlight what you can do rather than former job duties. This format is often used when a job seeker has large gaps in their work history. The combination résumé blends both styles, allowing you to list important skills along with your achievements in each area.

Jewell advises to always begin your résumé with “ a billboard,” a quick sales message. Also, tailor your résumé to a specific job. Jewell says the most common mistake that people make on their résumés is not connecting to the job description. Another big mistake is detailing all experience. “It becomes a distraction to include too much detail about jobs that aren’t relevant,” she says.

Jewel also suggests hunting for key words to include on your résumé on sites such as Career Builder, Monster, and Indeed—the three big boards—and collect position descriptions. Highlight the terms that keep repeating: “90% of companies today screen résumés by machine. If you have the right words on your résumé, you’re a match for the job,” Jewell says. You need to rewrite your résumé so that those skills appear.”

For social media sites, Jewell says to abbreviate your résumé to just 100 to 150 words. This means giving yourself a descriptive title such as “Marketing Professional,” adding five to seven major career achievements, and a short list of key job competencies.
- Annya Lott

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  • http://WriteMyResumeNow.com Ozzie Saunds

    Thanks for this article. With the black community being hit the hardest by the employment slump, this informative article has perfect timing. I love your recommendations about including special keywords in your resume. Here’s a more in-depth article about using keywords to create a searchable resume that should help people understand how to utilize this keyword resume strategy better. 

    http://blog.brand-yourself.com/brand-yourselfcom/how-to-create-a-searchable-resume-profile/

    Ozzie Saunds
    Career Specialist

  • Thomasina Garner

    I sure hope you received my initial comment. When I pressed the sumit button, the message I received was something about double or duplicate message error. Anyway, just in case it did not go through, I will restate the gist of it. I glad to catch your inspiring show on Sunday mornings, but I worry about the time slot in terms of the loss of valuable information that may parents, students, teachers and counselors do not get a chance to see. I could not get through to TV1 to learn why you are not given a better time slot. I was also pleased that the woman whose organization is working on projects in the Bronx (Greening Ghettos) is reaching out to give training and employment opportunities to those who need it most – our youth. I was concerned that I do not here about the various companies reaching out to schools, talking about training programs/internships they offer. I am concerned about the lack of presence and information about Black Enterprise in the schools,particularly the middle schools and high Schools, or programs for Black males. The gentleman interviewed regaring Green housing development did not mention any opportunities for youth. Mention was made about the Expo but what is it? Who is invited? What is its purpose? I did find out a little about it on the website but I still do not know whether it helps our youth, those newly graduated from college seeking employment, those in high school, or, those who are ex-offenders. Please feel free to contact me. I was very happy to find that you do list career opportunities. Not too long ago, you did a special on successful women, but there was no information for youth interested in gaming or business.