Your résumé: A marketing tool

Even if your career path is in marketing, marketing yourself is an entirely different feat.  Many professionals leave marketing to those with the proper schooling, but preparing a strategically written résumé and presenting it at a job interview is all about marketing.  You are selling specialized skills and experience that a potential employer may be in need of, and your goal is to show that you are better than the competition.

Searching for a job is about securing your livelihood, and with all the rejection letters you are bound to get, along with the occasional job offers, it gets personal, but remove the self esteem component, and you are simply selling a set of services.

What do you know about a potential employer and what special training or experience do you have that the potential employer will find of value?  Are you aware of projects the company has conducted recently where your skill set would be of benefit?  They are eager to find professionals who can speak their brand of professional jargon and who know their line of work well.  At the end of the day, their job offer to you is a contract, a business agreement.  Although it may seem that the potential employer has the upper hand, they are really quite dependent on someone like you to come along who can get the job done, improve efficiency, and increase the bottom line.

Be confident.  Do your research in advance so that you are prepared.  A lot of information about a company is available right on a company’s website.  If you know someone who works for the company, take them to lunch; find out anything you can that will help you better connect with them.  Prepare a cover letter to match your résumé — emphasizing your skills in which the potential employer will be most interested.  This means that your resume may be in a different order and with a slightly different profile at the top for each résumé that you send out, but it’s worth it.  Potential employers often go through stacks of résumés, so if your document is customized for the position for which they have advertised, they are more likely to place yours in the short stack.

In a job interview, act like you are up to snuff, being careful not to be cocky.  Dress to impress, but be conservative, even if flashy ties and brightly-colored silk shirts are your regular business attire.  A white or light blue button-up shirt that is well-ironed, combined with a suit that has recently been dry-cleaned and shoes that are shined will move mountains for you.  Also, make a special effort in your personal grooming that day.  Most importantly, remember to smile.

Make sure to have a copy of your résumé on hand, printed on white or ivory bond paper to use for your reference or theirs.  Provide them with a business card that includes information such as your website or blog.  A lot of copy shops will print 500 business cards for you fairly inexpensively.  The clean-edge Avery business cards (#8873) that you can print from home are also a viable option.  These are available in most office supply stores.

When you are searching for a job, make sure to do a little bit of work each day, whether it is doing research about a company or actually submitting a résumé and cover letter.  Keep at it, and keep yourself focused and oriented on your end goal.  Break tasks down into bite-sized pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed.  Then fill your evenings with a hobby or spend your time with loved ones.  Maintain your network of friends and family, your support group during this time of struggle.  Spend time each week doing a service for someone at no charge.  Take the time to get some fresh air at least once a day.  If you feel fulfilled in the areas of your life that you can control right now, this attitude will be apparent when you show up for the job interview.

In your résumé, focus on your positive areas and those areas in which they are most interested.  Figure out how to present the areas that are not so strong in a positive light.  Gaps in employment or a period of being underemployed can be addressed in a cover letter, explaining that you had a illness or a family obligation.

You have a lot to offer potential employers.  Résumés, a document that has a fairly strict format, can be molded to represent you in the best way possible.  Canterbury Résumé can assist you in preparing a professional job search documents.  Sign up now.

© 2010 by Emily Sanderson.  All rights reserved.

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Transferable skills often facilitate a career shift

Political decisions or economic circumstances, whether on a federal, state, or local level, can have an impact on the viability of vocations.  A career path that seemed promising in college can change directions quickly as a result of new technologies or a change in legislative funding.

To keep yourself marketable, a career shift may be in order, but there is good news.  Many of the skills you have gained from your education and experience will transfer well to another vocation.  By strategically emphasizing these skills on your résumé, you will keep yourself in the running without necessarily having to return to school.

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the field of petro-geology, which was as promising as computer engineering is today, dropped dead in the water when the 1987 oil crisis hit, leaving geologists throughout the country jobless and forced to change career paths.  Some went back to school for additional credentials; others joined forces in the civil engineering world.  However, 20 years later, several petro-geologist job openings have cropped up as domestic oil exploration has begun again.  Within the legal industry, real estate and transactional finance attorneys have seen heavy lay-offs and slim pickings for available positions in their fields because of the present credit slump.  Some of these attorneys have been forced to make a career shift to a field similar to theirs.

Career shifts can be daunting, but they are possible with some thorough research, the right network of colleagues, a strong work history in your former field, and a strategic résumé that emphasizes those skills you have which are more useful in your new desired field.  Transferable skills are those skills you gained in your former field or perhaps in a position early in your career which match the skills needed in the new industry you seek.

In many cases, you are competing at entry level with applicants who many be younger than you but may have more qualifications which are relevant to the particular line of work.  Nonetheless, you have a more extensive work history, and your experience in your previous field may give you an advantage.

Often potential employers that seek to hire entry-level employees will expect you to prove yourself in a highly competitive office, which may require you to work long hours, do a lot of business travel, or to meet certain stringent requirements over a probationary period — all at an entry-level wage.  But your previous work experience can give you the competitive edge.   Find projects the company has worked on in the past that would benefit from your skills and experience from your former industry, and use that as a selling point in your cover letter, résumé, and also in your job interview.  The company may even sponsor you in completing the necessary certifications.

The use of a hybrid resume would be appropriate to use for a career shift.  Include a profile or statement of qualifications at the top in order to emphasize the skills more relevant to the field to which you seek to transfer.  Revisit your bullets under each company for which you have worked and decide if alternate bullets should be used that will better emphasize your transferable skills.  Reorder your bullets to emphasize these skills, as well.

Avoid using a functional résumé if you are applying for an entry-level position, but if you seek a managerial-level position, a functional résumé is an option for you.

Canterbury Résumé can help you prepare a winning cover letter and résumé for your career shift.  With the information you provide, we can design your documents to give you the advantage.  Sign up for our services today!

© 2010 by Emily Sanderson.  All rights reserved.

Stay Current on Marketable Skill Sets

Technology advancements often provide improved efficiency in business operations, such as online services, which can help companies save time and money. As a result, however, companies’ day-to-day business needs are constantly fluctuating, and so are the job requirements of their employees.

What you learned in college – even if it was only a few years ago – may be vastly different from how things are practiced in your field today. If you are looking for a new job or are seeking a promotion at your current job, you should stay current with the marketable skill sets in your industry. Doing so will help you be better qualified and help you compete with other applicants. Make sure to indicate training seminars and other continuing education on your résumé.

Some skill sets can be self-taught, such as becoming familiar with the latest version of MS Word or Excel when you are already familiar with older versions. Other skill sets can be more extensive, requiring additional coursework or another degree. For example, many graphic designers, who were largely able to find work making printed materials a decade ago, have evolved to become web designers, working mainly with electronic images and layouts designed for viewing on the Internet. Many have learned HTML and other programming languages and now work with web developers and computer programmers.

Many companies offer training to their employees. They consider it as a necessary business expense, particularly for skill sets that are unique to the business or are otherwise hard to come by, such as being familiar with customized databases. Some companies also offer at least a partial reimbursement for personal educational expenses as an employee incentive because they value employees who continue their education.

Training, nonetheless, whether it is formal or informal, is expensive for companies. Formal training involves paying for a professional instructor to teach a seminar either on- or offsite. Informal training consists of a supervisor or peer teaching you skills that are required for your job. Both require paying employees, and they temporarily delay work from getting done. By obtaining the required skill sets yourself, you increase your chances of getting hired. Businesses know they will save the money it would cost to train you themselves.

Enrolling in training seminars or taking additional college coursework is not cheap for you, either. You should plan carefully and select courses wisely to make sure the skill sets you learn will provide an acceptable return on your investment. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the skill set regularly listed in job announcements for which you would like to apply?
  • Will the skill set make you more qualified for jobs that offer a higher salary than your current or previous job?
  • Do you know anyone who has the training you seek or can you find information about the training or skill set on the Internet?
  • Do you enjoy doing the work associated with the skill set and is it work that you could do day in and day out?
You should also consider whether paying for the training or coursework will require you to go into debt. There is a certain amount of risk with going into any kind of debt. Going into debt occupies credit that you could have used on other things, such as purchasing a car or home. However, going back to school can increase your credit so that you have a better chance of qualifying for a loan. You should consider how you would pay off a student loan or training expense both on your new salary as well as on your existing salary, should your plans fail. Also, be sure that you will be able to pay off the debt within a period of time that will fit your budget.

Technology affects the very business models that indicate how companies earn their revenue – something that company executives who may hire you really care about. Pay attention to the technologies that are impacting your field, and be able to speak about them in a job interview.

Pursuing additional training or coursework is a way that you can meet the job requirements of a position that you view as a career advancement, and it can also be a way to qualify for a career shift into another field. Getting such training is an investment that can pay off in your career when you approach it with adequate planning. Canterbury Resume Services can assist you in preparing a tightly written cover letter that will emphasize why you are the best applicant for the job.

Sign up with Canterbury Résumé Services today, and give yourself a new lease on your career.

© 2012 by Emily Sanderson

Good News for the Overqualified

Have you gotten a college degree only to find that potential employers think you are overqualified for the jobs you are applying for?

You are not alone. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of people who are overqualified in a variety of industries throughout the United States. Why is this happening? Being overqualified can happen for many reasons.

  1. Industries change its workforce needs in response to changes in technology. The media is one industry, in particular, that has changed drastically in response to the advent of the Internet. Print journalism jobs have folded substantially, but there are new writing opportunities in marketing and social media.
  2. College curriculum often struggles to keep up with changes in different industries, particularly those that are heavily influenced by technology advancements. Your schooling may have had an emphasis in a particular element of your industry such as math theory that may give you a broader skill set than applicants whose education focused instead on the day-to-day, practical elements of your field.
  3. If you are still in college or are planning to go back to college, be sure to line up an internship with a company that will give you a lot of exposure to your industry. Doing so will give you an idea of what skills you will need and what you can expect to do on a day-to-day basis. You may find that your internship will make you aware of additional helpful coursework, either in your major or outside of your major, which will provide you with valuable skill sets. For example, business marketing majors who will work primarily with online media can really benefit from having web design skills. Take advantage of such an opportunity while you are still in school.
  4. Big businesses such as those in the finance or telecommunications industries, like to hire employees straight out of college and let them grow with the company. If you are seeking to make a career shift into another field mid-career, you will be more successful in your job search to look for small- to mid-sized businesses. Find companies with positions in the field in which you seek to transfer that will benefit from the skills you gained in your previous career.
  5. You may have pursued a master’s degree with the desire to become more qualified for positions in your industry, only to discover that you have become overqualified for entry-level jobs. Choose a master’s program cautiously. Be aware of the particular job requirements for the types of positions you are seeking. Consider entering the workforce after your undergrad and waiting a few years before pursuing additional education. If you do pursue a master’s degree, you should make sure you can enter the workforce immediately after graduation either with the company in which you intern or another company in which you have networked.
  6. Retail stores don’t want to hire people with college degrees who just want to make ends meet until something better comes along. The stores know they will lose money by training someone who will only work for a short term; stores also believe that such people won’t fit into their company culture.

Many of you need to make ends meet while you are out of work. Small- to medium-sized companies are more likely to hire you if you have unique circumstances. Consider finding a company within your industry for which you can do contractual work while you continue to seek a full-time position. Doing so will allow you to continue doing work that will fit on your resume.

Unfortunately, if you find that potential employers think you are overqualified for the positions you are seeking, they are probably right. Even though you are a hard worker and know you can do the work required for a part-time retail job you seek to make ends meet More and more, companies want to hire people only for the position for which they have posted. Only a few hires get job advancements in a year or two after being hired. You will find that the better fit you are for the posted position, the more likely you will be a fit for that company in the foreseeable future.

Sign up with Canterbury Résumé Services today, and give yourself a new lease on your career.

Copyright 2012 by Emily Sanderson
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