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Archive for the tag “job hunting”

Rules for Revisiting and Revising Your Resume

Having to revise your resume and writing cover letters for jobs is stressful. Especially if your savings are running low and the phone’s just not ringing. It’s easy to start getting down on yourself and letting negative thoughts take over.

But you know you can’t quit. You got bills. However, you probably need to take a break and allow yourself to do something fun, so you’ll have a clearer head to get back out there. So quit applying from jobs from a place of fear, anxiety and disbelief.

Trust me, you have to feel good about yourself and your abilities in order to convince someone to pay you to do stuff.

Whether you’ve had a steady job for 12 years and looking for a change, or you’ve been out of work for a few weeks or a few months, taking the time to revisit your work history can feel like it’s painful as spring cleaning, or as anxiety-inducing as being asked to jot down how many sexual partners you’ve had on a health form.

Sometimes, you just don’t want to go back. But in all of those scenarios, in order to move forward, you have to face it.

Working on your resume and cover letters is time-consuming. It just is. It’s a necessary evil. But instead of being filled with fear and anxiety, be comforted that in the age of technology, you can get a lot of help and find free resources to help you polish things up a bit.

Rule number one: Just because you snagged a job with your old resume doesn’t mean sticking with what you’ve got will continue to work.

I like to use my job-winning resume format as a foundation, but I continue to tweak.

Rule number two: Work on your resume while you have a job and can readily think of accomplishments and achievements and your duties while you are actually doing them.

Rule number three: Tailor, tailor, tailor. I write different cover letters for every position. Why? Practice makes perfect and I challenge myself to say what I have to say with fewer words. I think I hit a new record when I got my cover letter down to about 380 words. This means you are getting closer to matching your written elevator pitch and effectively getting to the point, which is an attractive attribute for any kind of candidate. This also saves the recruiter and hiring managers some time, which they appreciate. This is not to say that I don’t have a base letter that reminds me of my accomplishments or uses good phrases that describe my experience level and background, but I try to change it up. Besides, you don’t want the mistake of copying and pasting an entire letter with the wrong position title, or worse yet, wrong company. This is why no matter how tired you are, you have to review your work, and always run it through spell check. I also like the other features like word count, and the passive voice percentage checker. Web writers, you want to have 0% passive sentences.

Rule number four: Government jobs are a different beast. As with all applications, READ THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY. Usajobs.gov actually has tips and videos that go along with their job descriptions and applications to help you bone up on what they expect and how your resume should be presented. If they took the time to do this, take the time to watch. It actually means qualified folks probably got tossed because they didn’t follow the rules, so this time, the government is trying to do us a solid here. Doing this may separate you from the folks who blindly upload resumes that get tossed immediately and may give you a few more points to compete with the veterans who get special preference.

Rule number five: Actually follow the directions as given. This applies to all applications, but the government in particular is rather fond of eliminating people for not doing things exactly as they asked. Just ask anyone who’s applied for a grant. Folks who approve grants are always trying to catch folks slipping. It’s not because they are mean, it’s just that there are strict rules when it comes to handing out government funds. They can get in a lot of trouble if they skip steps or let sloppy paperwork slide. It’s a picky, picky process. Details do matter. “Slay, trick or get eliminated.”

Rule number six: Imagine your resume is a contestant on “The Voice.” No one knows what you look like. Your resume has to sing and capture the attention of the hiring manager in less than a minute. Like the judges, they know what to listen for. Is this person confident? Can they even sing? Are they breathing right? Are they on key? Do they have a unique voice they haven’t heard before? Can they take songs people have heard millions of times and make it stand out? Same rules apply to your resume.

Are you on key? Does the tone of your resume and cover letter fit the description? Do you meet all of the requirements? Do you have examples?

Do you have a unique voice? What do you bring to the table that your other competitors don’t?

Can you take songs people have heard millions of times and make it stand out? There are millions of lawyers and accountants and teachers and nurses, but if you are in any of those fields there’s still only one you. You specialize in something, you may have come from another field that makes you have a different perspective on how you’re doing what you do now. You may have volunteered in another country, or had to use your skills in other ways. Play that up.

Rule number seven: Did you really read the job description? Use similar terminology the job description uses in your resume and cover letter so the machines can pick up the terms and match them. Say exactly how you meet each requirement and give an example.

Rule number nine: Don’t waste your time on long shots. Don’t apply to positions that are way out of your league and don’t apply to junior positions if you have a lot of experience. You have to strike the right balance.  Conserve your energy so you can concentrate on researching the company, rereading the job description so you can write an amazing cover letter and resume for jobs you have a real shot at getting.

Rule number nine: Don’t lie. This should be obvious, but do not lie or over embellish. There have been instances where people lied about credentials and were exposed several years later having to step down or being fired in shame. It’s never worth it. People also tend to lie about salary in hopes of getting a bump. It’s not worth it either. Report the truth, and ask for what you’re worth when it’s time to discuss the offer. If you can back it up, you’ll be surprised when companies step up.

Rule number 10: Say thank you.This goes back to kindergarten, but thank folks for their time and consideration. Don’t forget to include your contact information so someone can get back to you!

Bonus Rule: Have someone else look at your resume and give feedback. If you know someone who is an HR professional, that’s even better! Do you know writers or copy editors? Let them have a look too. They can provide some insight on things you should put more emphasis on, and things you can leave out.

Good luck!

 

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Connecting Others to Their Purpose Seems to Be Becoming My Purpose

It is no secret that I am a cheerleader for my friends and loved ones.

If there is something you want to do, I generally believe you can do it, even when I’m lacking confidence in my own life.

One of my closest friends has been struggling to find a job, as a lot of people are in these times.

I’ve always said what she has needed most is a great, well-connected mentor.

I’ve been looking and looking, and I think I found her the perfect person. I reached out to this person a few days ago. We hadn’t talked in years, but this woman had an impact on my early in my career. I sent her a very humble, yet passionate email describing how much I love my friend, and how I think that her mentorship will do my friend a great deal of good and point her in the right direction of entering a related field.

This well-connected woman reached back out to me, said she totally remembered me and appreciated the fact that I wanted so badly for my friend to succeed and was so ready to advocate on her behalf. She said she’d be delighted to contact my friend and help her in any way possible.

I have been over the moon about that this morning, because I do believe this interaction– which is now up to my best friend to knock out of the park, can set in motion just what she needs to get her to where she’s been wanting to go.

That moment inspired me greatly.

Right after that email, I saw another from a company I applied with over a year ago and went on an interview for.

They said according to my qualifications in their system, they suggested a position. Normally, these suggestions are way off, and well below my pay requirements.

I’ve been comparing salaries in this area, and this job could potentially make me happy. So I’m going to apply.

I was talking to my other friend I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, a lot about purpose and wondering if as a writer, professionally, I’ve been drifting further and further from what I originally wanted when I set out to be a world-class journalist.

Maybe I did drift, and maybe being a writer for newspapers may no longer be a desire of mine, but I will always be a writer.

But something else has been happening with me. Writing this blog, gives me the opportunity to still do what I love and I love writing this blog and I love the positive feedback people give me.

The other piece of my heart and purpose now really is advocacy. I think this job I’ve come across has the potential to do that. I said several posts ago, I’ve accepted my lot at my current job, and would only apply to jobs that really move me, instead of applying to jobs for more money or to get the hell out.

I’m learning to listen to myself. And I’m listening.

So let’s give it a go.

I took this a step further and decided to write myself a mission statement. If companies and organizations can write them to establish goals and organizational culture for groups of people, why can’t we do this personally? Individually?

I will use my talents and experience as a professional communicator to be an advocate and cheerleader for health, education, the arts, women and girls, and the disenfranchised.

 

I will connect people to resources that will lead them to achieve optimum mental and physical health, and identify and utilize their own creativity, skills and talents in positive and powerful ways.

 

I will use my gifts to empower others.

 

Creativity is my guiding force and inspiration, I will continue to seek inspiration and challenge myself in my creative pursuits– through literature, music, visual arts, technology and entrepreneurial endeavors.

 

Today, I challenge you to really think about the things you love, the things that inspire you and make you feel good and think about your talents used and unused, and the skills you use every day as well as the skills people are always asking you to use. Create your own mission statement and post it someplace to remind you of who you are and what REALLY drives you.

Posting this in my cube has already given me a new feeling and a sense of greater purpose. I’m saying it out loud and whoever comes by my desk will see it too. I’m giving my thoughts real power and standing behind it and challenging myself to live up to it.

Women, Negotiation and the $10,000 Rule

koratmember/freedigitalphotos.net

koratmember/freedigitalphotos.net

It’s a monster out here in terms of the job market and finding the right gig.

I read a disappointing, and yet truthful article this morning about how the way folks work and do business has shifted and that we basically will never see the days of staying with companies for 20 years, pensions, retirement and such.

As the world gets smaller, thanks to technology, only the hustlers and entrepreneurs will survive. Period. You’ve got to get your own hustle and work it to death and stack your money on your own terms.

It’s interesting that after reading this article with my breakfast, later I found myself  talking to a young woman at work, who I just love and want to see her do well. She has the same apprehensions I had as a young woman around 25, 26.

Her jaw dropped when I told her with a serious and straight face that I always ask for $10,000 more than my current salary for any new job.

A male I was dating, years ago gave me that successful gem, and I’ve never backed down from it. These days, I have dropped to as low as $8,000, but I simply cannot afford to go lower.

That’s bad business for my brand.

I am a single woman living in the DC area. It ain’t cheap. I gotta eat, pay rent alone and just live. Period.

And with my years of experience and what I’m bringing to the table, any move I make, I’m not doing it for less than $8-10,000 above my current salary. Period.

The young lady was shocked. She said in these times no one can afford to be so commanding.

I told her in these times, I can’t afford to work for less than what I am worth. I am a woman, I am automatically paid less than men. I am a woman of color, I’m often already paid less than my white, female counterparts.

The young lady I was talking to is a latina. I told her, asking for that amount is simply trying to break even. It’s basic math.

With time, you do build confidence. I explained to her, if I hadn’t asked for more money during various periods, the company would have never given it to me.

The second year with my company, I presented the evidence and I got an 8 percent increase to go along with the incremental increases we got annually. But at rates of 1 or 2 percent for those annual increases– if there aren’t any freezes that year– you still aren’t gaining much ground.

Closed mouths don’t get fed.

If I didn’t get the bump I got in the spring, If I never asked for the increase I got a few years ago, the pay cut we had to take in the fall would have been catastrophic.

Women, if you are putting in the work, and you have proven your worth you have to ask for the compensation.

You just have to.

You can’t be afraid. They can tell you no, but at least they know where your head is at and that if you do leave, they can’t be surprised because you did ask them for more money.

I’m not saying march up to your bosses’ office and demand a raise during crazy times, after a bunch of layoffs. No.

You have to read the climate of the economy and where the company is financially, before you have that serious talk with your boss.

Even in low times, it doesn’t hurt to remind folks that you have weathered the storm, contributed greatly and you want to be remembered for your dedication and service when times are good and the company has rebounded a bit.

Companies are always about their bottom line.

Women, we need to be about ours too. We cannot be martyrs.

Men have a tendency to not have a problem with feeling like they deserve more money than what they are getting. They’ll tell everyone so. Including their bosses.

There was a young man on my job, who had only been around for six months and was actually insulted by the 2 percent bump folks automatically got around review time.

Don’t be delusional, but don’t be a fool by not at least asking for what you deserve and what is an appropriate salary for your position and the region in which you live. Folks need to come correct at least in those areas, if nothing else.

And in my opinion, my male friend was right. $10,000 is the magic number.

By the time you are excited about a $5,000 raise, unless you are working at your dream job and most of your daily stresses have been completely removed, taxes have sucked out a good $2,000 and you’ll hardly feel it.

So tell me, am I nuts for thinking folks should tell a potential new job to shove it if they aren’t offering an increase of at least $8-10,000?

Isn’t the point of a new job/promotion to advance?

Are women getting better at the art of negotiation? Or are we still trying to keep the peace?

And I hate that. How is asking for what you deserve rocking the boat? I hate when women say, they don’t want to rock the boat or cause trouble because they had the nerve to ask for more money. Trust me, companies are counting on you not to speak up.  Once again, folks need to know where you stand and that you are aware of what you bring to the table, and that you know that they know you may not be getting properly compensated.

I’m just saying…

As Beyonce says, “Eff you, pay me.”

*Sidenote. Please have proof that you are killing it in the work place. Write down your accomplishments, save emails from superiors who praise successful tasks, bring back info from conferences… etc. If you are a lazy, unproductive bum, do not march your raggedy self anywhere asking for more money. Please have a seat.

Talking About Progress, People

Alrighty, so after my post about making promises to your self, even if it’s day-by-day, or week-by-week, I was asked to write about my progress.

This week taught me that you must have daily goals and you’ll feel better that you accomplished SOMETHING.

This week also taught me that if you don’t do every single thing you set out to do, as long as you accomplished something everyday, you are not a complete loser.

Mission one was to do an exercise in the morning and in the evening, everyday.

Ok. I did that on Monday. The other days, no dice. I started my period and things went to hell. But I did make sure, come hell or high water I have my morning workout.

Mission two was to be vegetarian all week to help jump-start the weight loss along with the everyday exercise.

Welp, I went pescetarian because I just needed more, um substance in my life and I was looking for good vegetarian recipes, but I wasn’t really inspired. Fish is my friend. In terms of food, I think I did really well this week with food choices. My snacks consisted of apples, baked Pepperidge Farms crackers and 80 calorie cheese sticks.

I said I was going to drink just water all week. Well, I went to the grocery store, so I picked up Tropicana 50 juice, almond milk and some orange juice, all low in calories. The majority of liquid I’m consuming is water, but I will have an ocassional glass of the low-calorie juices or the milk. All still good in my book.

So while I made some amendments to the promises, the point of training myself to live healthier daily is still prominent. I’m proud of myself. Especially today.

I’ve been bloated and angry, and this morning it was a struggle. For starters, things went wrong with my workout because I didn’t get up on time, so I felt rushed, and now I’ve learned in order to wake myself up morning workouts gotta be some form of cardio that gets me moving or some kind of yoga that allows me to do a lot of stretching.

No strength training, no abs (billy’s ab bootcamp workout is the truth!). So, even though I felt like today was a fail and I really wasn’t energetic or giving it my all, I pushed through. And I also realized what I needed to do to have an effective morning workout that would make me feel good about myself for the rest of the day. So it wasn’t a total loss although I was disappointed in my energy level and that I couldn’t lift it.

I learned an important lesson about myself.

Taking action on my fitness and eating has prompted me to take action in other ways.

I started looking for a new place and I found one that is bigger and more awesome at a price I’d be willing to pay, for a bigger spot. Now, pulling the trigger is something else, altogether.

I stopped waiting for that dream job to call me back and broke the promise I made to not apply for anything else until I heard a yes or no.

I saw two jobs I think I’d really like, (one of which would be totally different from what I do, and would be associated with a fantastic cause) and I went ahead and applied for them. There is no point in me just waiting and waiting and torturing myself. Would I like the “dream job”? Sure, but all of this inactive waiting is making me feel like I’m just standing still. And what’s today’s lesson?

Everyday, DO SOMETHING. ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING.

So by just sending out those apps two nights in a row, I felt better.

I did something. I took an action for my life.

For four days in a row, I exercised. I took an action.

Because I was tired of waiting on the dream job, I emailed the receptionist, with whom I believe I built a lovely rapport. I asked her if she heard anything. She told me there has not been an announcement about the position being filled just yet. She suggested I call the person I interviewed with to follow-up.  I may do that tomorrow.

From this, I deduce that either they are about to fill it, they’ve selected someone and the info just hasn’t gone public yet.

Or,

They haven’t filled it yet and they are still trying to figure it out.

Either way, all is not lost, just yet.

So that information still managed to be useful.

I took an action. I’ve been very cautious to not over kill on sending follow-up emails or phone calls, but I think I didn’t overstep my bounds in this instance.

So today’s point again is there is no progress without action. You have to take a step, you have to just do something. It may be painful, it may be risky, scary, uncomfortable, but doing something and knowing you put forth an effort does make you feel better and feel alive.

Even the King sang about action…

A List Of Things I Know for Sure

You all know how much I love Oprah. She’s got this thing called, “What I Know for Sure.”

Over the past few days, even a couple of weeks, a lot of things have become very, very clear.

One of the things that keeps hitting me over the head is, new job. New job. New job.

Thing two is I’m totally voting for Obama. These things are tied together.

Thing three is nothing on this planet belongs to us. We are borrowing and sharing from and with the rest of humanity. We are borrowing from the future inhabitants of the world, we are sharing with those of us alive at the same time. Nothing belongs to us, because anything we have can be taken from us at any moment. So there’s no need to be greedy, or stingy, or so protective of what we have, because you’ll learn the lesson the hard way. Keep on doing what you are doing if you fall into that category.

Thinking this way this last week, wondering if I’d even have a job this week when others were laid off, it makes me want to give more. It’s not mine anyway. Whatever I do have in me, it’s time to give. When we do that, we are opening up opportunities for others and in turn, opening up more opportunities for ourselves. Hell, when my car almost broke down and I had to fork over a couple hundred dollars to fix, I just said, God this all belongs to you, I’ve been through enough, I just want my car to run and thank you that I didn’t break down on the road this weekend somewhere between Brooklyn and Maryland.

Back to the point…

The company I work for was sold.

Fine. We knew that was coming.

But we got sold to a smaller company that has not so great benefits, will make us pay more for our share of health insurance (some folks with families will be paying $1000 a month, like who has that and other bills too?).

Oh, the kicker?

A 7.5% decrease in all of our salaries. Yes folks, so here’s why I’m voting for Obama.

Republicans would argue that the government takes money from hard-working people who earned it to give to folks who don’t deserve it.

Well, in this competitive market, a COMPANY, not the government basically said, you make too much and for this company to grow, yeah we have to take almost 8 percent of your income that you did earn, and on top of that make you pay even more for healthcare… don’t worry, we will grow now because thanks to how awesome you all are, we’ll see profits down the line.

I sir, call bullshit. Please vote. Please take someone to vote. Do not believe this trickle down shit. Big companies are only going to look out for themselves. Period.

This is what companies and these businesspeople the Republicans want to give bigger tax breaks do, they fuck other people so they can keep their OUR money. We cannot let this happen.

Shit is so real. So I’m on the grind looking. This is downright scary.

I feel horrible for the pregnant woman on my job who basically said, with the new plan, she’s basically going to have to foot the entire bill for her pregnancy. She’s in a panic. And I don’t blame her.

So even working people, with damn company insurance, really need help. This ain’t no game.

Now that I’m done with the really bad news, the other thing I know for sure is that seeing my vision come to life fills me with joy. I’m determined to keep going.

I had the photo shoot for my tee-shirt line in Brooklyn, NY this weekend with fabulous, beautiful, hard-working talented friends.

I learned, when you let people in on your dreams and let them take a part of it, it not only lifts you up, but makes you accountable to really not give up and make it happen.

Why? Because these people believed in you enough to give up their time, their energy and sweat because they believe the dream too. Your real friends and loved ones are invested.

We were up at the crack of dawn, and I was doing every menial job possible, but I didn’t care. I loved every minute. I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of my friends who helped me. I can’t stop looking at the photos I took and video. I’m going nuts waiting for the photos  my professional photographer homie took. They are going to be insane.

Even just seeing how the shirts looked on other people filled me with pride. My models were beautiful, they were just being themselves, and from the photos I did see, they were just amazing. AMAZING!!!

I learned I do want to work for myself, and provide others with opportunities. I don’t want someone to evaluate me every year and give me their opinion of how I work, whether I suck or whether I’m awesome, then toss me a few pennies or not toss me any pennies. I want to give somebody a job so they can be independent, and feel good about themselves.

I’ll let my customers tell me, and I’ll tweek my product and services until they are happy and I get the value of those products and services. That is the American way. Not this world I’m living in right now.

I don’t want to be at the mercy of some large company that has the audacity to assess my value and then say, “you make too much.” Or, “You should be happy you have a job.”

Those are the options now?

Yall better wake up. I’m totally awake. Bright eyed. I got comfortable. I did.

If I didn’t get my promotion a few months ago, yall, with this cut, I would have been making a little over what I made when I first started at my job five years ago. That’s how real this situation is. My second year into my job, I had to take a second job. So taking a nearly 8 percent cut ain’t no joke. NO JOKE.

The next thing I know for sure is I’m developing feelings for the older gent.

He is supportive, kind, caring, funny and when I was having these crappy days, he was the first person I wanted to see.

One of my friends just suggested going speed dating, and I kind of don’t want to go. I don’t feel like I’m ready for a serious relationship with him right now, but I’m happy where we are. I think of him often.

So these are the things I know. These are the things I know.

What do you know for sure?

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