It's a JUNGLE out there...whether you are hiring or looking for a job.
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The Deciduous Forest – Question of Quality

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 8, 2016 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

Forest2The job search jungle includes all biomes and species that are all indicative of Carolyn’s vast experience in her field. My name is Cammy Cohen, and as a summer intern at Merito Group I feel I am qualified to speak metaphorically on only one ecosystem. I have chosen the Temperate Deciduous Forest because of its seasonal changes. Unlike the Tropical Rainforest, which has the same temperature and weather patterns from season to season, my summer, winter, spring, and fall are all very different. I am currently a student at Virginia Tech and love being a Hokie. In Blacksburg, everyone is wearing maroon and orange on game day and you can order pizza bigger than your face until 2am. I want to share my glimpse into the professional world and my view as a college student. I truly cannot express my gratitude enough to Carolyn and everyone in this office for investing in me and immediately making me feel like part of the team!

People are always taken aback by the fact that I want to be a recruiter. It seems to be a job that most just people find themselves in rather than set out for as a career. I suppose I am the exception to my perceived rule but so far, I believe this is the right path for me. I believe recruiting is an incredible use of my marketing degree. I don’t just want to market products, I want to market people’s skill sets and ambitions. I want to bridge a company’s needs with what my candidate wants, and market my firm in the process. I want to help people with the next step in their career by reviewing resumes and conducting interviews. But above all, I want what everyone should want from their career- to feel passionate about the work and to know that it has significance.

In the summer months the warm temperatures and ample sunlight harbor the growth of lush vegetation in the forest. In my current position, I am learning and growing as a professional every day. I am currently on a project with one of our clients who is a large government contractor. I am part of a team conducting the initial screening process of many diverse individuals every day.

My peek into the recruiting world has been a fantastic experience thus far, but not without falters in confidence. What I struggled with most was understanding the reason for implementing specific metrics- or why we have metrics at all. My idealistic view of recruiting was focusing on the candidate’s potential, finding the perfect job, and then making a “happy every after.” I was spending upwards of 10 minutes with candidate running through a conversation that should take no longer than 5 and stumbling through the computer software. I was reassured that I was still just learning, but that I wasn’t meeting my metrics meant that I wasn’t doing my job. This weighed on me and made me ask the question “at what point does quantity override quality and does this signify the nature of the industry?”

One day, after staying late in the office I asked this question to two of my colleagues. The question that had been nagging at me every time I opened my underperforming excel sheet. Both of them seemed surprised. My project deals with a high volume of candidates and they assured me I would get the hang of it. But that wasn’t what was concerning me; I wanted to know if this was truly representative of recruiting. They told me they felt the metrics kept them on track and was a fair, quantitative way to monitor progress. I left feeling unsure determined to understand the balance.

The next day I came back a new intern determined to streamline my efficiency without sacrificing the quality of my candidates. I found the best way to navigate the software and strived to keep my conversations concise and meaningful. Everything from this point on has clicked (which is the reason I have time to write this, might I add.) My point here is that everyone was right, I just needed to see it to believe it. So my first lesson has been learned- in a corporate environment there are quantitative standards you are required to meet but the true value of a recruiter is bringing quality alongside those metrics.

This Guest Post was contributed by Cammy, our fabulous summer intern! To see if Cammy has a position for you, apply here: Merito Group Career Opportunities

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The Polar Bear Cub – Life Skills For Graduates

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 15, 2016 in Career Path, Interviewing Skills, Job Search

Polar BearThe hope of many college seniors is to quickly land a post-grad entry level position with their first choice company, doing what they majored in, with a competitive salary, and opportunities for professional development. The reality is quite different for many hopefuls.

A polar bear mother spends a few months of the year in a den with her newborn cubs. When the cubs are larger and stronger, they are able to leave the den and walk around. The cubs are glued to their mother’s side for the next few months playfully imitating her hunting habits in preparation for later life. For life after college, many graduation seniors are woefully unprepared as they leave the protective den of their alma mater.

Carolyn Thompson of Merito Group, and author of Resumazing – Ten Easy Steps to a Perfect Resume, touched on some of the more significant challenges that the 2016 class of graduating college students face when they begin to look for job opportunities in her interview with David Rawles, host of Career Solutions Radio.

You can listen to the interview here.

One of the most underused resources on a college campus, Carolyn points out, is the career center. Many students don’t even know where it is and once you graduate, its resources will no longer be available to you. The career center can help you figure out your value proposition and connect you with employers hiring for the skills you have. They also have information on employers that recruit on campus most frequently. While you are still near the den, utilize the resources available for you.

The worst thing that many students realize at graduation is that they did not get any work experience at all and have nothing on their resume. “Any job is better than no job.” Carolyn says. You are developing a history of reliability and dependability by having a regular responsibility outside of school. You can also volunteer or take an unpaid internship to get experience and references. For instance, if you are working in a bar as an accounting major, the bar is still a business that has to do bookkeeping and taxes. Volunteer doing small tasks for them if you are having trouble finding a job in your major or field. Take a lesson from the polar bear cubs and get the experience you need before graduation without the stress of needing the skills to survive.

For all of you graduating seniors in the Metro DC area, APPLY HERE.

To help prepare in the next couple of months before graduation while you are still warm in the den (besides a visit to your career center), spruce up your resume with these tips from Carolyn:

  • Make sure your contact information on your resume is accurate. Typos in your email and cell phone number are very common mistakes.
  • Include at least your zip code in your contact information. Locality can play an important role in certain positions and your resume might not come up in searches.
  • Add a description of the companies you worked for (i.e. public or private, number of employees, revenue – whatever is relevant to the industry).
  • Bullet point your accomplishments outside of your job description so they stand out and set you apart – what you made, saved, or achieved in the role. All polar bears are white to blend in with the snow, but here you need to standout!
  • Write your skills together on your resume so they are easily found and can be reviewed quickly. (Technical skills, licenses, etc.)
  • Make sure the skills you include are relevant to the job you are applying for. Saying you have your real estate license takes up space if you don’t need it for the job.

(Editor’s tip – if you worked through a temp agency, remember to note that on your resume so your employer can check your background more efficiently)

For those young entrepreneurs out there: Carolyn tells a story of a young person who ran his own lawn care business in college. LISTEN HERE to find out how she rewrote his resume to help him land a position as a financial analyst after graduation.

One thing to note for your job search, Carolyn mentions, is that small to mid-size companies have more flexibility in a single position to allow you to learn and do more.  A lot of grads are attracted by marque name companies, but they might not get to do much in the role in such a large organization.

In the interview, David Rawles asks Carolyn about what she thinks is the biggest myth that many students may be thinking as they enter the workforce. Carolyn replies that some people think their first job dictates their future, but this is not the case. If you don’t land your dream job right away, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen later. Many people don’t get the job they thought they wanted and even those who do get their first choice may realize that it’s not for them and change. There is more than one ice floe in the arctic!

For more information about Career Solutions Radio with David Rawles click here.

-Lindsay Sellner, editor

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The Cat – Herding vs. Teamwork

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 11, 2015 in Executive Coaching

Cat3You may have heard the phrase “managing [x group] is like herding cats.” While a group may exist with shared goals it, like the territorial cat, may not collaborate as a high performing team even if they are familiar with its members. The essence of high performing teams is collaborative independence and participative leadership but the wild cat, while independent, is not known for its teamwork.

All teams are groups, but not all groups are teams. Next time you find yourself herding cats in a group, use these characteristics of cohesive, high performing teams:

  • Members of a high performing team have complementary, yet unique, skills.
  • The team as a strong group identity which can be underlined with special names or methods of identifying the group (such as uniforms/shirts/pins/Internet groups).
  • The members maintain a clear understanding of both the importance of the work, their individual role, and how it relates to overall goal achievement.
  • Members have the authority to act autonomously and with discretion to complete their necessary tasks. This doesn’t mean they aren’t supervised, rather it means they are properly empowered to take risks.
  • Members believe success is achievable as a group and are individually passionate about the results and accountable for their own performance.
  • Members treat each other with respect and sidebar conversations that are dissenting or subversive to the goal.
  • Underachievement, or social loafing, is not tolerated in the team. They establish minimum standards for performance or level of effort and members who are deemed ineffective or disruptive are eliminated.
  • They set their own goals, rules, schedules and norms for behaviors and follow them.
  • Use democratic decision making and leadership is participative.
  • Evenly divide the work space and level of effort.

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The Firefly – Lighting Up The Jungle With A Video Contest!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 6, 2015 in Building Confidence, Thinking Positive

Hey you! Yes, YOU! Do you love your job? I sure hope you do..

Just like the firefly lights up the jungle with its brilliant glow to let everyone know how great they are, YOU CAN TOO.

The Merito Group is launching a nationwide video contest! It seems as though a lot of people just go through the motions and check the box at their 9 to 5. However, there are some people out there who truly love what they do and we want to celebrate that. Light up the jungle and make a 60 second video telling us and the world why you love your job!

Hopefully by seeing how much other people enjoy their work it will encourage others to see the positive in any situation. After all, enthusiasm is contagious! #ILOVEMYJOB

Prizes such as a $500 Amazon Gift Card, Go Pro, and $100 Starbucks Gift Card will be offered to the best videos! Find out more at www.facebook.com/meritogroup or visit http://www.meritogroup.com/ilovemyjob/.

Ilovemyjob

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The Leapfrog – Being Positive in Career Transition

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 14, 2015 in Executive Coaching, Interviewing Skills, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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Frog2All frogs hop, but no frog hops like the red-eyed tree frog. The red-eyed tree frog stealthily roams the jungles of Central and South America in a way different from the rest of his rainforest pals. The red-eyed tree frog is not only able to leap great distances quickly, but his feet have distinct sticky pads that allow him to hop from place to place with poise, precision, and grace. It is a given in today’s economy that career transition is the norm. As you navigate the job search jungle, you will want to act with the red-eyed tree frog’s finesse and poise as you leave one employer and interview with the next.

There is never a time when landing with grace is as important as when you are interviewing. Twice in the past couple of weeks, people have been passed over for great job offers because they spent too much time in the interview focusing on why they left something that was broken rather than moving towards something that was better for them. As you leapfrog through the job search jungle, positivity is the key to successfully landing gracefully.

For instance, when the interviewer asks you why you are leaving your present job, this is not an open invitation to bad-mouth your current or past companies. This would not be transitioning with poise.  Even if your experiences have been negative, or if the company has more problems than profits, delving into the miry pit of your poor employment situation will only hurt you. Any negativity you project in the interview will set the tone regarding your personal outlook and most likely reflect poorly on you. The more you detail the negative aspects of your job, the more the interviewer will wonder, “If we hire her, what would he/she be telling other people about us?”

Positivity, on the other hand, pays off. So, how do you frame your story when it’s not all sunshine and roses? It should not be about what you are leaving; the point is you don’t look for reasons why something wasn’t a good fit for you in the same way you may not have been a good fit with the job. There is always something wrong with every organization. You will want to answer why the position you left or are moving towards is or was a positive step. How is it an opportunity for personal learning or professional growth?

Unfortunately, no one is going to pay you more money because you bought a bigger house or because the job you accepted isn’t perfect. However, an employer will pay you more if your expertise is in demand. Try to make the connection between your skills and enthusiasm and why this new job is an even better and exciting opportunity. If you can articulate this, your interview will come across as positive, and you, will be seen as a positive person. You will be transitioning gracefully.

Why is positivity so important? Based on your resume, the interviewer is aware of many of your skills, many of your accomplishments, your employment history, and your education. When they contact you for the interview they are giving you the nod that you could be making the right leap. By the time you are sitting face to face, the interviewer is just trying to figure out how you might fit in with the team, what it would be like working with you day to day, and how you respond to stressful situations in the office. When you demonstrate positivity, you assure them that you will effectively make the daily challenges easier to bare, and you will not bring in an attitude that demoralizes the team.

As you consider your next job, think about that nimble little red-eyed tree frog. Hopping from place to place can be awkward when you are not expressing the positivity necessary for a sticky landing. Your job transition is not about leaving a negative situation, it is always about moving positively towards opportunity.

This post was contributed by Jenny of Merito Group. Visit www.Meritogroup.com for more information and current job openings.

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The Bird’s Nest – Building Your Professional Bio

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 22, 2014 in Self Improvement

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Tips to write an effective, professional bio.Nest2

As a talent acquisition and search services firm, we have the frequent opportunity and pleasure to neaten and expand resumes and professional profiles. This helps our clients to better see the experience of a candidate and also helps our candidates land the perfect job. You can find many articles in this blog about tips to write the perfect resume.

This week I had the occasion to help one of my longtime friends write their professional bio. Unlike a resume, cover letter, or profile, a bio should highlight your current company, your immediate related professional background, and also include a bit of your personality in a few short paragraphs. Your alma mater, interests, major projects, and accomplishments should be a couple of sentences and, if applicable, media mentions or notable clients can be included. Incorporate as many numbers as you can and mention if you are involved in any outside activities and member organizations.

All of these points are the “eggs” that need a home outside of your resume. The nest of your professional bio can be used on company websites, requests for proposals, and many other areas. Your nest can only hold a few eggs at a time, so as your career changes and grows, be sure to swap out your accomplishments. It is good to update your bio once a year along with your resume so you aren’t scrambling for it at the last minute.

Below is an example:

 

BEFORE

Harry Miles is the Field Operations Director for Interior Design Company Inc. He has over 25 years of healthcare planning, activation, and patient move planning experience.  He has developed proprietary tools to accurately budget and plan complete facility activations.  Most recently he planned a 300,000 sf in patient facility located in Guam: equipment delivery and installation, activation, training, transition planning, patient move planning and relocation of reuse all completed forty five days. The project was a huge success and finished on time and within budget.  In his career he has planned and executed over 200 projects with an emphasis on patient care and staff safety, budget and schedule.  He has a great deal of experience organizing, training and motivating people toward a common goal.

 

AFTER

Harry Miles, PMP, is the Director Field Operations for Interior Design Company Inc.

Harry attended the University of Notre Dame on a full football scholarship where he played as a linebacker for 4 years while he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

Harry brings 20+ years of healthcare operations, logistics and planning experience to his role at Interior Design Company Inc. This boutique Alaskan and Native American Minority Business Enterprise is equally adept at meeting the needs of clients in the contiguous 48 states and all US Territories.

He recently delivered a 300,000 sf inpatient facility project located in Guam on schedule – 45 days from receipt of equipment.  This comprehensive, complex start to finish project included design, equipment procurement, delivery, installation, activation, training, transition planning, patient move planning and relocation.

He has a great deal of experience organizing, training and motivating people toward a common goal.  He has developed proprietary budgeting and scheduling tools that have uniquely allowed him to successfully execute over 200 projects with an emphasis on patient care and staff safety both domestically and internationally.

Harry and his family live in the Washington, DC area. He grew up in South Bend, IN and is an expert in University of Notre Dame sports trivia.  He was a high school State Champion in Tennis, speaks Zulu, the bush language of South Africa, and has a unique passion for large scale implementation and delivery projects.

For more information on Harry and Interior Design Company Inc. services visit his website or email him at Harry’s_email@email.com

———–

If you need help reworking or creating your professional bio, email Lindsay at lindsay@meritogroup.com with your resume and to inquire about pricing.

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The Gorilla – Ego In The Interview

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 15, 2013 in Executive Coaching, Interviewing Skills, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

Bookmark and ShareGorilla

Conflicts among gorillas are most often resolved by ritualistic displays intended to intimidate without becoming physical. These displays can include chest beating, ground stomping, and other showings of strength.

Gorilla-like behavior can surface under a wide variety of circumstances in the workplace. Perceived “threats” such as:
• authority being taken away
• new policies and procedures
• company reorganization

can cause the “gorilla” to emerge by making individuals feel self-doubt or under appreciated. Skill sets might be stretched into previously un-treaded territories, new responsibilities can trigger inner feelings of self-doubt, or the person isn’t feeling as challenged in a new role which they feel is beneath their abilities.

Consider this interview scenario; a management level person is participating in interviews where the new employee will become their peer. How will they view the interviewees if they are experiencing self-doubt about themselves and their own work?

It’s important to know as much about whom you are interviewing with and how your level of experience compares with them so you might be able to spot areas that would cause the interviewer to pound their chest and try to intimidate you. If you find yourself in this Gorilla’s cage, seek common ground where you can show how you will be a supportive experienced member of their team working towards a common goal.

But don’t be afraid to pound your chest a little in the interview. For example, I recently had a conversation with someone who had performed 4 general ledger systems conversions in his career and they were interviewing for a job that required that type of experience. Having successfully completed this work “only” 4 times before had left this person feeling that there were other, more qualified consultants in the world who perhaps had far more experience. The truth of the matter was, that in the interview setting they were the expert in the room because no one in that company had ever completed more than one system conversion. So, while you might suspect you aren’t the “most” experienced at something, it doesn’t mean you aren’t the most experienced person at that moment and, therefore, the immediate subject matter expert in the eyes of the hiring manager.

Be proud of your accomplishments and achievements. Prepare for every interview by researching the individuals you will be interviewing for and do a personal inventory of what you have made, saved, or achieved in the past and how your accomplishments will benefit your potential new employer in the future.

Have a bit of the gorilla’s confidence while steering clear of threatening territory!

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The Jungle Zip-Line: A Fresh Look At Goal Setting

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 24, 2013 in Executive Coaching

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It’s that time of year again!

Are you ready to set goals for 2013? I have always looked forward to goal setting. It keeps me focused and moving forward in a positive manner on a definite path. This year, however, I have a new thought about my goal setting thanks to Janet Sernack, CEO of ImagineNation.

I found Janet in my end-of-year quest to catch up on CEU’s in order to renew my ICF credential. It was quite by chance, in fact. Janet was one of the only people offering a class with a good number of credits to help me catch up; so I registered. The last thing I could have thought as I pushed send on the form was how much of an impact Janet would have on how I viewed things.

Have you ever been to a large park or resort that offered zip-line rides? Have you ever taken advantage of the thrilling recreational activity? A zip-line, “also known as a death slide, flying fox, zip wire, aerial runway, or aerial ropeslide” is a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline. After you are strapped to the cable and pulley (with a helmet – safety first!), you step from the high platform to be propelled to the bottom of the inclined cable by gravity. It is often used as a form of entertainment, but it can also be a functional means of accessing remote areas, such as a rainforest canopy. The jungle, with its mountains and high trees, is a popular destination for zip line enthusiasts. The anticipation of the adrenaline rush as you climb to the top platform and connect to the line, the breath you hold in as you step from your solid perch to fly over tree tops with the loud whirring of the pulley in your ears, the only thing connecting you to the line keeping you from plummeting to the forest floor below, knowing all along you will arrive safely to the platform on other side.

Do you watch as other riders fly down the incline? Some people are holding tightly onto the line that dangles them from the cable with their eyes clenched shut, and others are laughing with joy. Many people put their arms up in the air to feel the full thrill of the ride. Which are you? Are you holding onto things because it’s the pattern you are accustomed to or will you throw your hands in the air and see if the safety harness really works?

This brings me to my goal setting. Many of us have learned the art of SMART goal setting and in fact I wrote about it earlier this year. I enrolled in Janet’s program because I needed CEU’s and was intrigued by the name she created, ImagineNation, which is telltale to Janet’s focus on creating innovative thinking. By letting go of ideas I hold on to as truths, I can open up space for new ideas that I never before imagined. Janet challenges me when I tell her why something is the way it is, “What if you let go of that?  What if you put your hands up instead of holding on?”

Instead of my goals being entirely about what I am going to accomplish this year, I am going to challenge myself to let go of something that I am holding onto. An idea, a predisposition that something is the way it is because that’s just reality, is really not true. It’s my reality because I believe it, but maybe there is a new even better reality out there that I haven’t discovered because I am so engrained in my truths.

My goals will still be SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely), but for the first time, they will also be about something I am NOT going to do instead of a milestone to hit. Which is a milestone in itself, right?

Think about what you can let go of this year…and enjoy your goal setting!

You can connect with Janet via LinkedIn at http://il.linkedin.com/in/janetsernack

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The Squirrel – Bargain Hunting in the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 21, 2012 in Career Path, Executive Coaching

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Squirrel2As the holiday shopping rush starts, it has dawned on many that the New Year is now just a few short weeks away. It’s that time of the year to grab a moment and simply take stock of what you’ve done well this year, what you want to improve upon for next year, and set goals. Most importantly, it’s resume update time!

Many people don’t take the time to update their resumes annually which creates a monumental chore when you suddenly need it (job change, promotion, bio, etc.). As we all rush through the malls and stores on Black Friday trying to get in the bulk of our Holiday shopping, think about another way you will be able to save during this season. Instead of wracking your memory for accomplishments from the previous 5 or ten years and taking days or weeks to pull your polished resume together when it is needed, make updating your resume a part of your holiday list. It is so much easier to keep things in perspective and keep track of what you have contributed year over year if you have an annually designated time to update. This year’s accomplishments might not be as significant as next year’s but it can become more difficult to remember details of projects as your work evolves. Making note of these things every year will save you time and worry. Time is money, so save yourself both by being prepared.

Just as squirrels collect and store nuts so they’ll have food to last through winter, you can stockpile your accomplishments in your resume every winter. TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME is a convenient source for you to download from Amazon.com with real life examples of how to organize your resume in order to find the PERFECT JOB.  A good job description with your specific accomplishments listed under each role showing what you have made, saved or achieved will give future readers of your document a great picture of not only what you have done but what you can do for them if they hired you.  Use numbers, specifics, percentages, etc. to quantify your contributions. Definitely note any special awards or accolades you may have received.

Try answering these questions:

  • What change occurred in my company this year and how was I involved in that?
  • How has my department and/or role evolved this year?
  • What were the major projects I worked on and how did they affect the division/ company’s performance?

Year end is also time to make sure you have completed your necessary CPE (continuing professional education). If you have earned licenses, keep your continuing education current so you aren’t scrambling to find classes that will meet your needs at the last minute.

The squirrels who have gathered the most nuts will be prepared for any kind of winter, so follow their example and you won’t have to go nuts to catch up!

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The Trees – Differentiation In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 23, 2012 in Job Search

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What sets one tree apart from another?  In the jungle, these woody plants are a mass of trunks and foliage. They grow at a pace and the larger tress can live hundreds or even thousands of years. What makes each tree unique?

Trees have different origins, sizes, and can serve different functions.  Some trees are edible and grow components that serve as food to the animals in the jungle. Some grow higher than others providing the upper canopy to the ones below that need shelter to survive. Others shed their foliage and provide ground cover allowing other seeds to take root and grow.

As job seekers, consider yourselves as trees in the jungle.  Very similar to each other in the broad sense, but very different in your unique features. No two trees are the same, but how can you set yourself apart and illustrate to potential employers what skills and experience you bring to the table to perform the necessary functions of the jobs you are interviewing for?

Accomplishments.

Recruiters see hundreds of resumes each week where job seekers have painstakingly detailed their duties to the nth degree, but the content is devoid of accomplishments.  The resume ends up detailing the job duties alone, which is something anyone in that position should be able to perform competently and will not set you apart from any other individual who has held the same position. A job description or a description of your day to day activities will not allow potential employers to envision how you will excel in your future company. That is where your accomplishments come in. Accomplishments are what you have made, saved, or achieved in your previous roles that ultimately benefitted the department or company.

Accomplishments are only significant to the environment/situation where they occurred and are thus unique to you.  Make use of bullet points within your experience to set your accomplishments apart from your duties. Use numbers to create objectivity: percentages, dollar amounts or other relative units of measure to show the breadth of impact the accomplishment had on the organization where it occurred.

You are as unique as any tree in the jungle, but you have to showcase your own special features through detailing your accomplishments within your resume.

For more resume tips, pick up a copy of Ten Easy Steps to A Perfect Resume.

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