Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Happiest Moment…

…of an employer’s life is when he or she can toss your resume and cover letter into the garbage.

“1. I'm 45. 2. I wear reading glasses. 3. I have 200 files to read. 4. It's 10 p.m., I've worked a 12-hour day, my kid has just thrown up, and if I don't do laundry tonight, I'm not going to have clean underwear tomorrow. 5. So if you don't make this in a font that I can read without straining, you're toast!"

I’ve got to love this quote… because I’ve been there, done that. (Okay, I’m older and no kids. But the underwear thing—yup.)

It’s from a blog for academics, with advice to job-seekers. If you are reading my blog, you are probably not looking for a job as a tenure-track college professor. You probably don’t have a Ph.D. You may not even have your B.A., yet, but God willing and the creek don’t rise, you’ll have one in a short while.

So what’s the point? The point is that there are more applicants than ever out there looking for your job. Your application materials will possibly be read first by a machine. And then, if you make the cut—your materials will be read by a human being who is stressed out, sleep-deprived, perhaps dyslexic, balancing work and life badly, and who really needs a compelling reason to keep your application “in the running” for the job, rather than to toss it.

Make your materials easy to read (font size!), pleasant, engaging.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Be Fair to Yourself; Attend a Fair!

It's not too early to start preparing and psyching yourself up for career fairs (or job fairs, career development events--they go under various names). Here's an article that outlines a list of must-haves/must-dos before you attend an event:

If you want to know what career fairs are upcoming, check here, at the Niagara University Career Services calendar of upcoming events: Extra bonus points: many of them are on campus, so you don't need to hop a bus or beg a ride!

When should you go to such an event? Well--yes, obviously, when you are actively on the market, ready to graduate, and looking for a job. But here's an insider tip: go anyway if you are still years from being ready to roll. Shake hands, walk around, get a feel for how the whole thing operates. That way, you'll avoid that glazed-eye "deer in the headlights" look when the real thing is an inevitable part of your new life.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Group Hug!

If you haven't joined any LinkedIn Groups yet, why not make the Thanksgiving break a time to get started?

Groups are collections of people who share something in common--well, duh. On LinkedIn, groups are where conversations take place, and where you can keep your ear to the ground about the industry of your choice (writing, editing, English-y sorts of things). You can also jump into that conversation and begin establishing yourself as an insider.

They are not like Facebook's system of "liking" an organization and then waiting for them to send you a coupon or something. (I've never really gotten the whole Facebook "like" thing--what if I want to "not like"? or discuss?)

You'll find the official LinkedIn FAQ information here: Before you start a group (the first major set of topics), take some time to be a member (the cluster of topics near the end of the article).

On the etiquette and uses of groups, here's a great article about making the most of your group experience:

Friday, November 22, 2013

When it's Legal to Discriminate

You know there's stuff employers cannot ask you legally, right? Things like:
  • How old are you?
  • What is your religion?
  • How many children do you have?
  • What is your political affiliation?

The point is that these are all legally verboten questions because your age, religion, children or politics have no bearing on your ability to perform a job. (Obviously, if you want to be a fundraiser for Democrats, but you are a Tea-Party Republican, some of these categories might be relevant--but not very often.)

However, you can be discriminated against because of your age, religion, politics and so on--if a prospective employer notices your Facebook profile, your tweets, or other social media and dislikes what he or she finds there. At least, there have not been any statutes or case-law challenges to the practice. And anyway, who is to say whether an employer passed you over "because" of a statement on your Facebook page or not? How can they prove it?

Moral of the story: lock down your privacy settings, and be sure that anything "the general public" has access to presents you with only information you would be comfortable disclosing to a prospective employer.

(PS: Thanks and a tip o' the hat to Joyce!)

Are you Naked without a Resume?

Well--yes you are. You've got to have a resume. And it has to be great. Applying for jobs without a resume is like walking out of the house in the morning to retrieve your newspaper without having put your robe on to cover up--well, whatever you sleep in.

But pay more attention to your social media profile, where you can really develop a sense of who you are, outside of the strait-jacket confinement of what a resume is supposed to look like.

Here's a great article with links to additional resources on how to craft a LinkedIn profile, interact with others in your chosen industry or field in forums or on Twitter, and offer samples of your work for a prospective employer who wants to know more (without lugging around a portfolio).