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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 Mating Call – How & Why Business Professionals Should Get Creative with Their CV/Resumes

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 3, 2014 in Job Search

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MatesThe animal kingdom has come up with countless unique ways to hide or flee from predators. But sometimes they want to get noticed! For instance, when your resume looks like every other resume in the herd, it makes it a little hard to stand out to potential employers. Some animals turn to a mating call as a way to attract attention.

If you have been looking for a job with poor results for a longer than the absolute necessary period of time, you may want to get creative with your CV/Resume. Sometimes it isn’t the content of your resume that is causing you to be passed up by potential employers; it could be the layout of the CV/Resume that is hurting you. With high unemployment ratings there are large piles of CV/Resumes on the desks of human resource departments across the country and most of them look the same. By getting a bit creative with your CV/Resume your credentials may get the attention that they deserve.

Like everything in life, moderation is important. You don’t want to be overly creative and be labeled in such a way that you never get a worthy job in your industry, but a little charm and personality could go a long way. Especially, as this article on Randstad Financial & Professional shows, when the economy continues to recover and there are more applicants than open positions in many professions.

  • Make a creative header: the bulk of your CV/Resume should be neat and legible but there is room for creativity in the header of your resume. Try playing with eye appealing fonts, varying sized typeface, and subtle colours in order to grab a reader’s attention and keep them from moving your CV/Resume from one pile to another without a second glance. (Editor’s note: Make sure your creative font won’t be mangled by another word processor when the recruiter opens the resume. PDFs will lock in your creativity, but certain applicant tracking systems may not be able to parse your information correctly if it is not a word document with common fonts.)
  • Separate sections with colours and shading: When separating the sections of your CV/Resume, like your prior experience, skillsets, and education, try creating shaded text boxes to emphasis each separation. This will also keep the reader’s attention and move their eyes further down the page.
  • Create a border: Add a thin, delicate border to your CV/Resume. A sleek border surrounding your resume will help it stand out against the numerous plain, white pages of the other resumes. Make sure to pick something that will catch someone’s eye but not distract from the content of your CV/Resume.
  • Put it online: Some of the best CV/Resumes around are not on a sheet of paper. They’re online. And when you compare them side-by-side with the standard CV/Resume, there is really no comparison. Because they’re online, you can animate them, add video and other interactive elements that can tell your story. Need some inspiration? Check out this lot.
  • Promote it: We live in a socially connected world. You are already sharing funny pictures of cats and interesting articles you find online, so why not share and promote your CV/Resume too? Perhaps it would look out of place on Facebook, but not so on LinkedIn. You could even use Pinterest or Dribbble if your CV/Resume was visually creative.

By adding a little style to your CV/Resume you can get more attention, showcase your personality, or prove to potential employers that you’re not afraid of going above and beyond on a task. It is important to show a bit of restraint when being creative; you don’t want a potential employer to label you immature, unprofessional, or incapable of the job at hand.

No matter how creative you decide to get with your CV/Resume, it is important to remember that the content needs to be well-written, professional, and relevant. Even if you create an outstanding visual resume, if it is written sloppily and in an unprofessional manner, you may still be passed up for the position. Make sure the content of your resume is the priority; all of the creative aspects can be done after you create a well-written copy.

And when you land the interview, don’t forget to finish your “mating ritual” on a strong note! The Mating Ritual – Job Dating (Simple Rules For Interviewers and Interviewees). Even if you don’t make the cut, you can still bounce back.

This guest post was contributed by Victoria. If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

 

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The Social Wolf – Planning Your Career Pack With Social Media

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 22, 2013 in Career Path, Job Search, Self Improvement

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How to Utilize Social Media Effectively in Your CareerWolf

Wolves live predominantly in packs to search for food, raise pups, and defend hunting territory. When a wolf leaves their birth pack, it could be in order to join a new pack that may not have as many members or packs that have better opportunities in the hierarchy. Sometimes the searching wolf may even establish their own pack. If a wandering wolf doesn’t find the right pack, it is usually possible to return to their birth pack. Wolves may cover a large area and travel long distances in search of the perfect fit and it often seems to be a hit or miss process. Social media networking can take much of the guess work out of finding your career pack.

People have always looked for ways to interact with their colleagues in order to develop a way of getting a step above the other competitors in their career. Many social networking websites that represent digital social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and others present an excellent way of not only staying close to your friends but at the same time offer various growth opportunities for one’s career. Let’s see how social media can help you in your career by allowing you to stay connected with professionals in the community.

How social media works to boost your career

Websites that focus on maintaining and managing one’s professional networks, like LinkedIn, utilize social networking software and principally work on the concept of managing and gathering multi-tiered contacts. “First connections” are those individuals with whom you have a direct connection, as in a co-worker or friend, and the further tiers, such as second or third connections, are professionals that are in your network sphere as a result of having relationships with your direct connections. An individual needs to become a registered user of the website in order to benefit from it. However, once registration is completed, that person can interact with thousands of professionals of the same or different fields as well as maintaining and managing a chain of direct professional connections.

With such career oriented social media websites one can look at companies in their respective fields and even apply for relevant jobs in order to plan a career move. This can be a great benefit to the individuals who are either looking to move companies or researching the first job in their career. Job seekers and employees are not limited by geographical boundaries, but only their own network. These websites realize the importance of personal branding in a job search and hence, suggest their users develop appropriate profiles which can help them represent their accomplishments, strengths, skills and academics to their potential employers or clients. Developing a personal brand with these social sites can make the professional a more valuable asset for the company they work for, their own enterprise, and for the potential employers as well.

Social media has evolved as a great advancement in social networking that boosts professional networking activities and career management for people in a resourceful manner. This electronic way of person-to-person networking is quite an effective marketing tool, which an individual can utilize to market his/ her professional skills. These social media platforms allow any individual to manage his/her own future and career just with a click of a mouse. These have made the professional connections and interconnections possible which grow into a wonderful professional web community. Not only does it offer career prospects, but professional discussions through forums and groups enable individuals to continue to learn many new things pertaining to their field or career.

The social media platforms have revolutionized career development for self management, personal and professional empowerment, as well as networking. It would not be wrong to say that one can indeed utilize the social media effectively for his/her career as it is a valuable way for building professional brand statement in the long run and for finding appropriate opportunities in their career.

Don’t be the lone wolf wandering aimlessly, research a pack with social media and develop the connections to move forward in your career.

This guest post was contributed by Patrick S. Patrick has been recently employed by a professional research paper writing service at SolidEssay.com, where he helps students fine tune their research papers and other academic work.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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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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The Hunters – 5 Resume Killers to Avoid

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Mar 28, 2012 in Job Search

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Resumes are your first impression when applying for a job and first impressions mean everything. In order to land that interview, be careful with what you produce for your resume. Here are 5 common resume killers that are stalking you even now.

Generic wording: Your resume is your chance to speak and tell your possible future employer about your background and your capabilities before actually having the opportunity to meet with them. Therefore, it is very important that your words are clear and precise. Job descriptions and duties, objectives and hobbies should stand out, do not use generic wording, and use memorable words. Example of a bad objective: ‘My objective is to find a career and a company that I can grow with and excel in.’ the reason why this is bad because it says nothing about yourself and what you actually want. This objective statement is generic and boring. Think outside of the box and off the beaten path to evade this predator.

Job History: There are three things that can turn away an employer faster than you think: Lack of job experience, gaps between employment, and too much short term employment. If you have any of these things be prepared to explain, that is if the employer even considers your resume. These three no no’s are warning flags for employers. They will worry about your commitment to their company if they see lots of short term jobs. Avoid these three things before they spring their trap.

Misspellings, Grammar and Punctuation: It is very important that you review your resume several times. Once you have completed your resume, look it over and then pass it on to others to help you. Having an extra pair of eyes review your resume can help catch any errors. There are also very inexpensive resume services online where professionals can look over your resume and help you. (Editor’s note: There are also free resume workshops available through libraries, churches, community centers, and even some recruiting companies may do them from time to time. Attend as many as possible to receive feedback.) Clever tricks this jungle hunter uses can include words that are spelled correctly but are misused, typos in names, and inconsistencies in your style.

Contact Information: Believe it or not this is a very big problem in resume writing. Many people do two things, have inappropriate email addresses or forget to update their contact information with the correct phone number. To dodge this killer, first things first, we are in an age now where it is not necessary to put your address on your resume, (Editor’s note: an address may help you advertise that you are local to a certain area and tells recruiters to consider you for local positions.) a phone number and email address will work just fine. Secondly, make sure your email address is professional, candybabe713@email.com is not okay. If you have a common name and have trouble finding a handle that has not been used, try different variations of your name. Last, call the number you have printed on your resume, just to double check. You will kick yourself later if you found out you switched a number and missed a call from an employer.

Visually Unpleasing: You have the right idea when you want to stand out, but there is such a thing as doing too much and this hunter likes the super flashy. Avoid graphics, designs and colors. Keep it simple and professional. Also be careful with your line spacing and margins. Use bold and underline with dividing the sections of your resume up. You want it to be easy to read and not a burden to dive into. (Editor’s note: Also make sure your resume is not a pdf. These will show up as blank when parsed by several kinds of software that help companies gather resumes from popular job search sites.)

Now you know the things you should avoid during your resume writing. Don’t forget to have an extra pair of eyes review before you start sending it out and you should be safe. Resume write in groups to catch those hunters! Good luck in your job hunt!

This guest post is contributed by Kate Croston. Kate is a freelance writer and holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing  internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to:  katecroston.croston09 @ gmail.com.

If you need help with your resume, grab a copy of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME from Amazon. It will really make the process a lot easier for you.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Harvest – Taking Stock

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 5, 2011 in Career Path

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In the retail jungle, the holiday shopping season is traditionally followed by yearend inventory counts.  On the farm, it happens right after the harvest. As professionals, we should also conduct our own yearend inventory and update our resumes with our most noteworthy accomplishments of the year. 

As illustrated in my book, TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME, you want to have a good description of your company, role, and primary responsibilities as well as a brief list of your most significant accomplishments. Accomplishments are separate from your job description, what you or anyone else would be doing in your position, and they are what most set you apart from others. Accomplishments are details about what you made, saved, or achieved that are special. Relevantly describe how they, and your role, relate to the overall company structure.  Include projects you designed, led through development, and took to completion.  Describe initiatives you were involved in on a team or awards and recognition you received that show you went above and beyond the call of duty.

When describing your accomplishments it’s important to use numbers, percentages, or other quantitative descriptions to show your contribution to your role and the company as a whole. You may have found budget cuts of 10% that increased company profits by $50,000, or you led a software implementation that created efficiencies in reporting and reduced your monthly close by 2 days.  Whatever your situation, show the metric, or key performance indicator (KPI), that you affected through your outstanding performance.

Some people have a hard time bragging about themselves, so try answering these questions as a start:

    • 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?

Your answers should spur your train of thought about what increased or decreased and what your part was in that change.

This process can also help you with your goal setting.  Perhaps, after you see your accomplishments on paper, you’ll realize there is a fundamental intellectual challenge that you are lacking or something you really wish you had been involved in that would have offered you personal and/or professional growth. 

Even if you are content with your current role and/or employer and not considering a job change next year, it’s important to keep your resume up to date.  Companies change over time, people take on more responsibility and taking stock of the harvest at the end of the year will make it much easier to update your resume when you do need it. Remember, your resume should be an accurate reflection of the experience that you intend to carry forward, not everything you have done, so choose your examples wisely.

Related Article: Setting Goals

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The Ocean – Jumping In

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In the summer months, the centers of continents heat up, drawing moist air from the cooler ocean leading to the most significant rainfall on the planet. In the spirit of the symbiotic relationship between the ocean and the jungle – this summer I am taking a huge leap (and hopefully a splash) into unfamiliar territory – television.

I know there is a truly interested audience out there for a show that can follow average and not-so-average Americans in their search for work. One of the hottest topics since 2008, resume building techniques and job searching tips are some of the most talked-about items in the news and on the internet.

Imagine a talk show that focuses on this very theme including: job search, negotiation skills, promotion techniques, improving communication issues in the workplace, and exposing corporate hiring practices to the world so that Joe/Jane Job Seeker can better understand what happens behind the scenes to get his or her resume to the right person and not in another incoming email pile. A potential one stop forum for people needing assistance with any and all workplace conflict resolution, career advice, interview preparation, resume writing…anything and everything relating to career development. A place where successful celebrities and business personalities from chefs, to creative entrepreneurs, to CEO’s could share their stories of success and maybe even uncover some of the things they might have done differently. A completely different category in the talk show world where you can learn how to get any job or move up in the one you have and access a personal career coach right on your computer or television.

On the heels of the release of my third book, TEN SECRETS TO GETTING PROMOTED, I put on my life jacket, fins and oxygen tank (no pun intended) and have entered the Oprah / Mark Burnett contest for my OWN show on her new network.  CAREER CONFIDENTIAL

If you share my vision, please, take time to vote…as many times as you can! …and share this link with your friends and family that could benefit from a show like this making it to a regular time slot. 

Come join me for a swim into the vast ocean of career development. YOU have the ability to help me help them (and you!), so please…link, listen, VOTE and SHARE!

http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=video_details&response_id=2386&promo_id=1

Oceanic facts from: http://oceanmotion.org/html/background/climate.htm

Carolyn Thompson

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