It’s All About Balance

‘Balance’ is a word that keeps coming up over and over again in my mind as I’ve worked through this blog project the past semester. Most everyone has heard the children’s rhyme, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, right? Well, all play and no work makes Jack a poor boy, so the best course of action it seems, is balance. Something else I’ve come to realize is that life is never neat, controlled and organized. Rather, it is messy, chaotic and constantly changing. Knowing this, I’ve learned to roll with the punches a little bit better and to incorporate play into work and vice versa whenever possible because I may not always get the ‘fair’ amount of time for each. So as I’ve progressed through my blog, I’ve worked harder to incorporate humor in small ways into each post. Like life, work is not something you can completely control the direction of, especially when it’s a creative process – like blogging or writing (in virtually any capacity).

My blog  did not end up becoming what I had originally envisioned it to be. I started each post with goals of perfection, clean and ordered symmetry, grave seriousness and politically correct advice. What I created was something considerably less so. My blog does offer good career advice, but that well intentioned advice has been progressively peppered with more and more humor, sarcasm and my personal wit (clearly I’m using ‘wit’ generously). These personal, humorous touches changed the landscape of my modern, professional career advice blog into a blog offering relate-able, entertaining career observations/recommendations with a sarcastic twist. I can’t say that one vision is any better than the other, certainly different audiences would prefer different environments. I do understand better now though, that I can’t be all inclusive all the time, despite my best intentions. The secret to a successful blog involves finding or creating a niche. In letting my flaws, quirks and personal preferences shine through, I’ve created something wholly unique and one of a kind. Whether such creation is good or bad depends on each individual reader – something that is completely beyond my control. So you are reading a blog that aspires to be no more than what it is, relate-able, fun career advice as perceived through the eyes of a woman whose still struggling to find all the answers herself.

What I share with you here is not encompassing of all career advice on the internet, I am not infallible, and (more often than I will EVER admit) I am wrong. More than anything though, I am genuine. I truly understand the fear, the struggles and the preparation that goes into finding and keeping a job. Because of that, I wanted to share with the world what I’ve learned through personal experience and academic research. It is my hope that you find something useful, or that you are, at the very least, entertained.

Good luck on your own job hunt and in all your professional endeavors,

 Friends Real World

 Best of Luck,

Jamie

CSU Alumni Association – Professional Development Services

http://alumni.colostate.edu/Alumni/CareerResources/tabid/567/Default.aspx

Alumni Association Career Resources

Alumni of CSU still have access to many of the services and resources available to current students of the University. The big catch here is that, as an alumni of more than a year, you’ll have to pay for most of them. Membership prices start at around $50 depending on the membership plan you choose.

With membership you will gain access to the CSU Career Center and their career counselors. You will also be notified of and able to attend all career fairs and events hosted by CSU. More than anything though you should notice that Alumni membership pays for virtually everything a current student has access to for FREE.

So if you’re a Junior or Senior it would really be to your benefit to meet with a career counselor and get your moneys’ worth of these resources at your disposal. Also of note, as a graduating Senior you can pay a mere $25 for membership within the first year of graduation. So if the connections and resources at CSU are worth more to you than peace of mind, I suggest paying the $25 after graduation. It’s a 50% discount to a debt heavy wallet (but if yours isn’t then that’s awesome and I hate you), that will let you test the waters without drowning in fees.

 “Through membership, I am rewarded with the feeling of connection … and being part of a legacy of excellence.” – Annual Member, Ed Goodman (’77)

Which I guess is a good thing for Ed, because beyond intrinsic rewards you really aren’t getting a whole lot for your $50 annual fee (IMHO).  The biggest perk you’re getting with membership is the ability to connect and network with people higher up on the career ladder than you.

Bottom Line: You’re getting access to career advisors and literature for free RIGHT NOW. So why not take advantage of it, oh I don’t know, RIGHT NOW (or at least by your Junior and Senior years). But if you’re really proud of your public university education then by all means pay the $50 a year for a budget version of LinkedIn and Google+ to support the wonderful institution that is CSU.

Tips for Writing Your Resume

Once you’ve picked a few jobs that look good to you, the next step is making yourself look good to them.

Resume Humor Ecard

Writing a resume is often one of the most intimidating steps in obtaining employment. The writer must be cautious to use good grammar, include key terms or phrases relevant to the job requirements and provide all information in a concise, coherent layout. These are common areas where applicants tend to trip up, seemingly inane details that feel far less important than your obvious skill and enthusiasm for the job. You want a resume that is professional – indicative of your own conduct in the workplace and eye-catching – why you’re different, and better, than the rest. Essentially your resume, from the colors to the text to the format, are a reflection of you. But understand that the first person to look over your resume will generally not be the hiring power, it will be someone else lower on the totem pole looking for any reason to discard it. This weeding out process varies from company to company but it’s an important aspect to keep in mind as it requires your resume to have both aesthetic appeal AND substance. So with these thoughts in mind, read over the following steps for some tips and industry secrets on how to write a great resume.

1. Choose a font and a format that are easy to read through without being forgettable.

Those individuals weeding out bad resumes are looking for any excuse to throws yours into the trash, they just have so many to wade through.

Things like cursive, tiny, or otherwise hard to read font make reading the resume more trouble than it’s worth. A 30th generation resume copy from Kinkos has blurred lines, poor paper quality and comes across as rushed and cheap. If you don’t value this job enough to produce a high quality resume copy, how much effort will you extend in the job if you actually get it?

Research templates online or through your word processor to find a clean, uncluttered layout with clear, sharp font to build your resume in. Remember, first impressions are everything, so limit your bullet points per job and use minimal color, it’s generally advised to abstain from graphics all together just to be safe.

2. If you choose to include an objective at the top, be specific.

“I am seeking a position with your company to make the world a better place, to grow as a human being and to put my skills to use for you.”

Well isn’t that lovely and . . . . pointless. By just applying for the job, the employer knows you want it and the paycheck that comes with it. In exchange for that paycheck the company expects to utilize your skill set pursuant with their goals. So a vague objective statement like the example above isn’t news to them, it’s not telling them anything they didn’t already know.

Be SPECIFIC. “My name is Jane and I’m looking to align my experience and education in dental hygiene with a dentist in Dallas, Texas that shares similar ideals for providing friendly, high quality care.”

An employer’s eyes will be drawn to “experience”, “education”, and “friend, high quality”. This is an objective that presents Jane as a qualified individual with people skills. Specifying her location implies Jane has reasons to stay local, reasons that may act as additional motivators for her to perform well and maintain her job over the long term.

3. Research what your employer is looking for.

Read through the job listing several times to pick up on key terms or phrases that your employed will undoubtedly be looking for. How can you relate your previous experience, education and training to align with the company’s goals?

You’ll want to keep your skill history from each previous employer concise and relevant to the position you’re pursuing. Consider reworking sentences, exchanging words and phrases to better match with the ideals your potential company listed in their ad. There’s bound to be lots of other applicants, they only want the best one.

4. Consider your resumes audience.

Imagine writing a resume for the most narcissistic, selfish individual you’ve ever met. That’s essentially who you’re aiming this information at, your potential employer doesn’t care about every job you’ve ever had or every “skill” you’ve acquired in your professional career. They only want the details of assets they can use, everything else reads as desperate filler.

For example: Jane was trained and licensed to drive a fork lift, reach truck and stock picker at her previous job. Now Jane is applying for a receptionist position at a telemarketing firm where these previous skills are irrelevant.Her potential boss at the telemarketing firm has no use for an employee trained to drive heavy equipment. Jane would be better suited to list her abilities gained indirectly from her previous experience. For instance, Jane works well in noisy, chaotic environments, (often translated to “Works well under stress”), Jane multi-tasks and thrives in fast-paced, challenging environments.

The point here is to work through seemingly unrelated past work experiences to discover and include the pertinent, applicable skills wrought from the old for use in the new.

5. Be clear, concise and unique.

Proceed with caution, and at your own risk.

Alright, you’ve made it through the worst of the process, deciding what to say, how to say, and where to put it. Now you’ve got to make it jump off the page, grab the reader by the collar and demand their attention – in a good way.

There are lots of little ways to gracefully stand out from the crowd without coming off as unprofessional or obnoxious. I once got a callback for a job, beating out hundreds of applicants, simply because I titled my resume email as “Pick me, I’m Perfect!!”.  Everyone else titled their emails with their name followed by the job description, or some variation thereof.

My favorite way to differentiate myself from the crowd is through humor. I justify this by telling myself that I don’t want to work anywhere or for anyone that doesn’t have a sense of humor. I am intelligent, educated, and hilariously clever. Why settle for one or two in an employee when you can have all three in me? I’ve included some example of resume humor (admittedly some extreme instances that I don’t recommend) that beautifully showcase what a sprinkling of quick wit and self-awareness can do.

This fifth step, the pursuit of the “it” factor and safe-for-work uniqueness has inherent risk. While virtually all other resume advice you come across will advocate for the safety of sameness and shades of gray (E.L. James has forever ruined that expression btw) in resumes, interviews,  and workplace conduct. 95% of the time it’s an accurate assumption and truly good advice, but as social media overtakes all areas of life, not simply our hours of leisure, the world – employers included – have every opportunity to see who you really are. For some of us this is scarier than others. My point though, is that who you *really* are shouldn’t be a bad thing, and finding little, (work appropriate) ways to express your true colors will make you more satisfied at the job and inspire lasting bonds with coworkers who will gravitate towards your authenticity.

Writing a resume is almost as much fun as staring at your phone waiting for it to ring then holding your breath for the person on the other end to say “I’m sorry to inform you . . .” or ideally, “Congratulations! . . .” But it doesn’t have to be impossible and I hope the few points I’ve detailed above will help to make the task even a little bit easier.

Remember that your goal is to articulately and convincingly persuade someone to give you money for doing work that hundreds of others are just as qualified to do. You’ve got to prove that you aren’t simply better than the rest, you are the best. I know it, you know it, your friends know it, so take a deep breathe, put finger tips to keyboard and get it in writing.

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