Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"I Have No Objective"

Lose the "Objective" statement on your resume. It's so 1970. I mean, come on; what the heck is left to say? You end up looking like a cloned dork:

  • To obtain a job in YOUR company, make lots of money, and fulfill my highest potential for success and happiness while contributing the utmost to your bottom line.

Leave off the nebulous brown-nosing fluff and try some of the strategies here instead, using "values," "expertise," or even "personal brand" as your starting point:

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @brazenlife and @jorgensundberg!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Buffalo Niagara Networking Event

If you want to stay in Western New York after you graduate, here is a resource definitely worth checking out: http://www.thepartnership.org/. You'll find job listings, networking, and connections throughout the area.

An upcoming event that caught my eye on Twitter: https://www.thepartnership.org/app/events/Power_UP_Roundtable. From the website: Join The Buffalo Niagara Partnership as we expand our Power UP series, adding in a roundtable discussion. Guests will spend time at different tables discussing the issues most important to women in the workplace today. Topics will include mentoring, time management, leadership and more.

  • Location: Shea's Smith Theatre • 658 Main Street • Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Date/Time: Thursday, February 12, 2015 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Cost: $25, BNP and BN360 members (Yes! Niagara University is a member, so you qualify for the reduced cost)
While you're there, click through to the jobs listings: http://buffaloniagara.org/OurRegion/GrowYourCareer (or, select "Who We Are" from the main menu, "Young Professionals/BN360" from the drop-down menu, and BuffaloNiagaraJobs.com from the resulting web page).

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @BNPartnership!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

$1.68 a Day Toward Retirement

1. http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-truth-about-your-future-self/
2. http://www.businessinsider.com/compound-interest-retirement-funds-2014-3
3. http://www.investor.gov/tools/calculators/compound-interest-calculator

Are you 25 years old? Want to have $100,000 towards retirement at 65? Invest $51 a month, starting now. Over 40 years, you would be "depriving" yourself of just under $25,000. That's about $1.68 a day. Far less than a daily Starbuck's coffee, or about 2.5 pizzas per month for the java junkies out there. Your money will quadruple.

Wait until you're 35 years old, and you'd have to invest $100 a month ($36,000 total) instead to wind up with the same $100,000. Your money will only triple.

The first link gives you an overview of plans you want to start making now, including retirement.

The second link has a quick and easy visual + written explanation of how compound interest works.

The third link is where I got the screen-shot below. I assumed your average return over 40 years in a well-balanced portfolio will be 6%... a conservative assumption. (Some years it will be more--others, perhaps less.)

Bear in mind, too, that inflation will likely eat up about half the value of your money. You'll need to spend more on healthcare; taxes are likely to go up; and so on. Further, as your earnings go up, your retirement savings should, too. But still--it's a pretty eye-opening number.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @thesimpledollar!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Resume online: format, privacy


Good advice here about how to format your resume for online views! Information about typefaces, formatting, and the like. Especially thoughtful comments on privacy:

  • Although you might include your exact street address in a resume in response to a specific job advertisement, you can reasonably omit some info. (There are too many creepy people out there in cyberspace).
  • Get a designated email account and phone number for job-search follow-up (and remember to check them often!) My favorite free "virtual" phone service: Google voice, which sends me an email as soon as I get a phone call. (Also screens out robo-call marketing.)
Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @CareerAddict!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Interview Icebreakers

"So--do you have any questions for me?"

Here's a list of 25 questions you can (and should) ask an interviewer:


In addition to sounding motivated and interested in the job, the answers may supply you with valuable information about what working for this organization is like. Remember, you should be interviewing the company for its fit with your priorities, too.

And with a little tweaking, many of these questions could be used at an informational interview ("what's it like to work in this field," as opposed to "please hire me!") and at a mix-and-mingle or job fair event.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @YouTernMark!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Resume: 5 Seconds to Wow Them

As you know, employers spend on average "X" seconds scanning your resume. Solve for "X"? Different sources give a different number--but the consensus hovers around "5 to 10 seconds." What are they looking at--and how do they decide whether you fall into the "keep" or "toss" category?

Quora, a platform for questions and community-voted answers, turned up these responses recently, from actual people who do the hiring: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-formats-you-have-seen-for-a-resume

So how to get a hiring-person's attention? Here's a Q-and-A page with sample resume formats: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-formats-you-have-seen-for-a-resume

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sidestepping the E-Brush-Off

It's the era of the "e-brush-off." Companies streamlining their customer service have barricaded themselves behind voicemail hell. You know, those horrible robot-driven menus where you punch in a series of hundreds of numbers, and find that whoever set this wretched system up had no clue about the actual problems of customers, because nothing applies.

If you've been there, then you may know about GetHuman, which lists numbers that actually get a live, non-robotic human being who might have the power to solve what's bugging you.

There's a similar phenomenon known to job-seekers: the ATS e-brush-off. Companies overwhelmed by hungry job-seekers have barricaded themselves behind electronic systems. You look through the robotized job boards, and submit application after application to an Applicant Tracking System, which promptly dumps 80% of applications into the garbage. 

Here's a solution: Stop following job boards. Talk with people. Find and cultivate a real, living connection. @Careersherpa tells how! It will take some work, and it's not a one-step fix, but it can be done. Read http://careersherpa.net/fix-friday-no-one-said-easy/

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Of Careers and Clouds


For those who live online, here's a new approach to job searching: Career Cloud. I was rummaging through my assorted online resources, and stumbled on one of their four tools: the "Hidden Jobs" listings.

Hidden Jobs can point you in the right direction. I've suggested that instead of "applying for jobs" when they are advertised, you research companies, hang out on their websites, and watch for jobs in your niche to pop up. You may end up with a small-ish list of high-profile companies. 

Hidden Jobs announces the possibility of jobs before they are actually listed, by examining business headlines--when a company states it will be expanding its operations, you can bet that company will be hiring new people. It is, of course, up to you to follow through by googling the company and making the contact. 

Another interesting pair of social tools that work with your existing online accounts: Jobs with Friends, and Social Resumes. The first, Jobs with Friends, x-rays your LinkedIn and Facebook contacts by looking at where everyone works--allowing your to ask for a referral, information about a company, or other useful leads. 

The second, Social Resume, pulls information from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and a handful of other platforms (Instagram, YouTube, Tumbler, etc.). The result is mashup of who you are and what's been on your mind (in your feeds) recently. The idea is to assemble all your stuff in one place... Which can work against you if (like the sample Social Resume I happened to click on) your comments run to snarky whining and obscenity over the current state of your job hunt.

Finally, there's a career podcast which has a couple of entries each month on useful topics.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Job Fair Buffalo January 2015

Huge job fair! Jobsapalooza 2015
  • When: Weds., 1/14/15, 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Where: Buffalo-Niagara Marriott, at 1340 Millersport Highway, Amherst 14221
  • Who's hosting: The WNY Assn. of College Career Centers
  • Why go: Jobsapalooza is Western New York's most versatile career event. Open to students and alumni from WNY colleges, Jobsapalooza 2015 features a record number of employers seeking to fill part-time, internship, and full-time positions before the summer. 
  • Who will be there:

  1. AFLAC
  2. Altitude Marketing
  3. Aspire of Western New York
  4. ATTO Technology, Inc.
  5. Aurubis Buffalo, Inc.
  6. AXA Advisors, LLC
  7. Bankers Life **Silver Sponsor**
  8. Camping World of Buffalo **Silver Sponsor**
  9. Cantalician Center
  10. Child & Family Services
  11. Computer SOS, Inc.
  12. ConServe **Silver Sponsor**
  13. Curbell, Inc.
  14. Delta Sonic Car Wash Systems, Inc.
  15. DiVal Safety Equipment **Silver Sponsor**
  16. Enterprise Holdings
  17. Evans Bank
  18. Family Video/Marcos Pizza
  19. Fetch Logistics
  20. First Investors Corporation
  21. GEICO  ***Gold Sponsor***
  22. Hazmat Environmental Group
  23. Heritage Centers
  24. Heritage Christian Services
  25. Hillside Family of Agencies
  26. HireEmpire
  27. Hunt Real Estate **Silver Sponsor**
  28. IIMAK
  29. Ingram Micro
  30. Joe Basil Chevrolet, Inc. **Silver Sponsor**
  31. Just for Kids Before and After School Programs
  32. Kenworth Northeast Group, Inc.
  33. Lactalis American Group (formerly Sorrento Cheese)
  34. Lake Shore Behavioral Health
  35. Liazon Corp.
  36. M&T Bank
  37. Manage Your Business **Silver Sponsor**
  38. MassMutual Buffalo
  39. McGard/LD McCauley
  40. McKesson
  41. Media Sales Plus, Inc.  ***Gold Sponsor***
  42. Med-Scribe, Inc.
  43. Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed
  44. Milton CAT (Caterpillar)
  45. Mod-Pac
  46. Mutual of Omaha Financial Advisors
  47. Navient Solutions
  48. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
  49. Northwestern Mutual
  50. People, Inc.
  51. Prudential Financial
  52. Randolph Academy UFSD
  53. Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  54. Ryder Transportation
  55. Saint Gobain ADFORS
  56. Sodexo
  57. Southeast Works
  58. Southtowns YMCA
  59. Strippit, Inc.
  60. Summit Educational Resources
  61. Teach for America
  62. The Scott's Miracle Gro Company
  63. Thermo Fisher Scientific
  64. Thrivent Financial
  65. Total Tan & European Wax Center
  66. TripleTrack HR Partners
  67. United Auto Credit  **Silver Sponsor**
  68. Univera Healthcare
  69. US Army
  70. US Energy Development Corporation  ***Gold Sponsor***
  71. Verizon Wireless
  72. Walden Galleria
  73. Windham Professionals
  74. WNY Muslims
  75. WNYJOBS.com ***Gold Sponsor***
  76. YMCA Camp Weona

Monday, December 15, 2014

Your Most Important Networking Resource


You can find quotes about what percent of jobs are located by networking. Numbers vary... but they are always well above 50%. (Like, 75% or 80%.) So if you're churning away at online job-boards--why are your spending so much of your precious time on something with a far less frequent payout than networking?

Remember: one of the most valuable networking resources is one you've paid for with your tuition money: your Career Services center! Here is where you can find

  • On-campus recruiting and career fairs
  • Employer networking events
  • Information about internships, speakers on campus, and other goodies
  • College networks through LinkedIn, with prospective employers, industry groups and alumni
  • Coaching and preparation for networking events tailored to your strengths and goals
Make one of your New Year's Resolutions (one you don't break!) to become a frequent visitor at NU's Career Services center. Start by dropping into their office the first day back from winter break.

Thanks and a tip of the Twitter hat to @blogging4jobs!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Applicant Tracking Systems: Confused?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are either increasing in widespread application, or withering on the vine. Job applicants must either tailor their resumes to these robots with standardized language and formatting, or they must prepare unique, graphic-heavy, stand-out resumes to get noticed.

Confused? Me too! 

If you apply for a job online (one of many strategies--should not be your only one!), be aware that your material may be scanned by a software package purchased by your target employer. Why? So that some poor schmo in HR doesn't have to spend days on end manually sifting through hundreds of pieces of paper to short-list job applicants... just for one position.

What does that mean for you? That even if you are the objectively perfect candidate for a job, your materials may well get tossed in the trash because you did not format or phrase stuff the exact way the computer wanted to hear it said.

Maybe this means that in addition to having one resume tailored for each job, you might want to have a second version tailored for the computer (if your first is tailored for human eyes).
  • An overview of perils and pitfalls of ATS: http://40pluscareerguru.blogspot.com/2014/07/applicant-tracking-systems-hidden-peril.html (Thanks @SuttonJobsPlus)
  • A step-by-step list of ways to optimize for ATS: http://mashable.com/2012/05/27/resume-tracking-systems/ (Thanks @JCPForthValley)
  • A cluster of articles which will help you refine your strategy: http://www.quintcareers.com/Content-Index/Applicant-Tracking-System.html (Thanks @careersherpa!)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Win a trip with Nicholas Kristof!

Love reading my NY Times Sunday paper... it spends the week in a place of honor in my living room (until the next Sunday, when I have to do a clean sweep because a new issue has arrived). This week, "Gifts that Inspire," by Nicholas Kristof, has the annual list of good charities that do a whole lot of good with lots of bang for the buck:

Also, at the end of the article, this notice:

It’s also time to announce my next annual win-a-trip contest, in which I take a university student with me on a reporting trip to the developing world. The winner will write posts for my blog on the New York Times website. I’ve been holding the win-a-trip contest since 2006, and one former winner, Mitch Smith, is now a Times reporter.

One possible destination for our 2015 trip is Congo; another is India and Nepal. Information about the contest and how to apply is at my blog, nytimes.com/ontheground. As before, the Center for Global Development in Washington will screen applications and pick finalists. I’m looking for a smart undergraduate or graduate student with great storytelling skills who wants to help shine a light on neglected issues and doesn’t mind bedbugs or warlords. Please pass the word if you know just the candidate.

Talk about service learning!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Act like a Grownup


The article I've linked to today has some simple but profoundly effective ways to make people take you more seriously.

You need to look like a confident grownup when you're applying for your first job out of college. If you're like most of us, there are moments when you don't really feel the part. If you don't feel the part, you don't look it--and people treat you as unserious, which makes you even less confident. It can become a spiral headed down.

These aren't "tricks" in the sense that they are fraudulent. Rather, they suggest details to be aware of as you network and interact. For example, if you use "upspeak," a rising intonation at the end of each statement, you'll sound tentative. If you make your physical presence small, rather than taking up lots of space, you'll appear insignificant and timid.

Project an image of confidence!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LinkedIn Titles: Should They Be Snappy?

  • Administrative Assistant is the new title for Secretary.
  • Sales Associate is the new title for Clerk.
  • Assistant Executive Vice President of Canine Scatological Resource Distribution is the new title for Pooper Scooper.

Lots of companies are rewarding their employees with titles, rather than money. Along with title inflation for everyone, this trend means your official job description may be an inflated mouthful. If you put that title on a resume or on LinkedIn, you risk confusing your readership (people with the power to hire you). If you don't put that title on a resume or LinkedIn, you're lying.

There may eventually evolve a better way. But for now, unless you're writing a resume you expect to be scanned by an ATS (computerized applicant tracking system--which may be looking for keywords), take some liberties.

Don't go overboard--the first two of these links take a rather scornful view of titles like Retail Jedi and Accounting Ninja. (They're worth a good laugh, and maybe some inspiration, though.) The final link, from LinkedIn's own blog, has some more serious advice for how to approach your titles and headlines creatively.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The ATS Black Hole, Demystified


Chances are, a robot will decide whether your resume is worthy of human eyes. Or not.

More and more employers depend on an ATS, an "Applicant Tracking System": a computer with a red pencil. It scans your resume to find out whether you have the credentials, skills and experience to be considered for the job.

That's unsettling. Are we really supposed to "welcome our new computer overlords," as Ken Jennings quipped when he lost a Jeopardy face-off to super-computer Watson on Jan. 15, 2011?

Maybe, maybe not. 

After all, which would you rather have reading your resume and deciding whether you look like a good candidate: a computer, or a tired human who has already scanned 100 resumes before yours?

Here are two succinct articles on what you can do to make your resume "speak computerese," and avoid the black hole.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @hrbartender and @CareerAddict!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Get Purple, Catch Fire!!!

Okay, my headline is tongue in cheek; but so is the logo of Monty Eagle carrying his briefcase.

As I mentioned recently, I signed up for a "Purple Briefcase" account with Niagara University's always-innovative and fun Office of Career Services (http://www.niagara.edu/career). I just got an email that says if I work at completing my profile--get 30 purple points--I'll be entered in a drawing to win an Amazon tablet. 

Matthew Abrantes (mabrantes@mail.niagara.edu) says it's easy to do within 15 minutes or so... Or if you are starting out from absolute scratch, maybe 30 minutes.

The contest drawing will be held in spring 2015, so you might spend a few minutes over the holiday break as part of your ongoing job-seeking "to-do" checklist. You can even ask the folks at the Career Center for help (716.286.8500).

Remember, you don't have to be a graduating senior to benefit from a Purple Briefcase. The earlier you sign up, the more comfortable you'll be with what's there, how to use it, and how to build your job-getting skills.

Money after Graduation, 101


'Tis the season to be spending lots of money, on gifties and textbooks for spring semester. But what happens next year or so? After you graduate, you get a job... it doesn't even have to be a "great" job, because anything above a "fries with that" paycheck is a lot more than you're making now. Your money worries are over!

Okay, first you've got to get the job. But then you'll have to rethink your financial strategies. Here's a great article that suggests first steps, places where you might pay special attention in the first year, to get yourself launched and pointed toward a satisfying economic future.

In addition to smart strategies for repaying loans and living on a budget, there's my favorite tip: #7. Retirement. Yes, I know you are too young to start thinking about that seriously. But I am eternally grateful to my Generation-Ago-Self for having started chunking money into a retirement account when I got my first real job after grad school. Because I started with my very first paycheck, it didn't "hurt"--I never saw a drop in my income. I increased the amount over the years. 

And 25+ years later, I'm not chewing my nails about whether I'll be surviving on canned catfood... I'll leave it to the cats. Plus, it's difficult to find vegetarian catfood. And eating catfood would place a serious dent in my plans to become a Crazy Cat Lady.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @trenttsd!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What do You Think They Think You're Thinking?

Wouldn't it be great if you could read people's minds, especially as you're job-hunting? That way, you'd know how to pitch your cover-letter, answer the interview questions, and get the best possible job.

Well--maybe there would be a few glitches--that seems to be the ongoing premise in Jim Carrey-genre movies, anyway.

But it is still worth trying to psych out the folks sitting on the other end of your job application. Here's a trio of links that will help you understand, if not actually know for sure, what's on employers' minds. Specifically:
  1. What do employers think happens on LinkedIn--and how do job-hunters actually behave? http://sironaconsulting.com/2014/12/01/10-reasons-why-there-is-a-disconnect-on-linkedinin-between-recruiters-and-candidates/
  2. What are the myths and misconceptions about millenials--stuff that's wrong, but  you'll have to work hard to counteract it anyway, because the generation doing the hiring doesn't understand you?  http://www.bentley.edu/newsroom/latest-headlines/mind-of-millennial
  3. What the heck did the interviewer ask me that for?  http://blog.jobrapp.com/logic-behind-typical-interview-questions-infographic

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Party, Noon, Tues 12/9/14, Dunleavy

Don't get Snookered by Relatives


According to this article from Quartz, a news aggregator that drops a "interesting headlines" summary into my mailbox each morning (qz.com), you are about to get inundated with advice from relatives about how to find a job. 

But what does Uncle Bob know? The last new job he got was 20 years ago.

Those hiring will ignore everything on your resume--except this: a referral from someone they know, or even might know. All of your carefully-crafted resume tidbits and your cover letter will fade into nothingness, but the name of a trusted person who suggested you apply for a job will stand out as if it's illuminated with a thousand watts of neon!

This is why to network!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Give Companies a Virtual Interview


If you've been following this blog, then you'll know that it's unlikely for "The Perfect Job" to fall out of the sky into your lap. There are a million places to look online for job postings. What if you're looking the other way when "The One" appears? (Shades of The Matrix!)

Rather than looking for a job, you might want to seek out a handful of companies you might like to follow online. After all, it's easier to skim 10, even 20 or 30 companies' job boards each week than to sift through 5,734,896 job-board listings--only to find that this huge bucket of "hits" on a keyword is misleading, since you wouldn't even consider 99.9% of them.

But how do you decide which companies or organizations to put on your short list? Here's a list of seven insights you can glean from an organization's public website. In effect, you can take a company on a virtual interview. Add a few informational interviews, smartly-targeted networking, and shake; rinse and repeat.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Learning to Like LinkedIn

Any organization or institution (be it a workplace, a college, or a social media platform) is more fun when you know what's expected--and what gets results. That's true on LinkedIn, perhaps the most important job-hunting, networking forum available to you.

If you aren't well-versed in expectations and nuances, you may find yourself laboring at strategies that aren't going to bring you much ROI -- "return on investment" (getting you noticed as payback for the time you put in).

Here are a couple of recent, succinct blog entries on what you can do to make LinkedIn worth your time:

Thanks and a tip 'o the Twitter hat to @YouTern!