A lots been going on in the news this month, here are some of the highlights (and lowlights).

The New York Times reprinted an old column with a frank look at the history of the unemployment rate, where it came from, how it works, and what it’s flaws are.

Business Week examines unemployment rates across the US and thoughts from Federal Reserve bank President Thomas Hoenig on unemployment and the Fed’s loan rates.

Alison Doyle takes a brief look at the proposed unemployment extension that’s sitting in Congress.

And David Garrison of the Chillicothe Gazetteer has a unique suggestion for creating new jobs.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow!

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The second point I brought up Monday’s post was Truth in Advertising.

If your resume is your self-advertisement, it can be very tempting to . . . buff up the picture a bit. Add a bit of shine. White wash those black marks.

If you do, you are setting yourself up for some major problems. Just like there are rules about companies lying in their tv commercials, there are rules about job seekers lying in their resumes.

But no one likes write a resume with major gaps in employment, minimal work experience or other problems.

So what can you do?

Try being truthful. If you took a few years off from work to raise a family, include it in your experience – Position: Home maker, responsibilities included managing budget, preparing meals, planning and managing family events, caring for 2 children. As usual. don’t worry about detailing experience that isn’t relevant to the job your currently applying for, but a lot of what goes into making a home is experience that can be useful in several different job fields.

College clubs are can be good experience also. Treasurer for the sci-fi Movie Club may not sound like much, but if the position required handling all the administrative work the college required for the club to be authorized, it can definitely count. Head of costuming department for a theater group requires strong organizational skills, managing and ordering supplies, keeping time tables and schedules, staying with in budget and a high level of multitasking – in addition to being good with a needle.

You may not be able to create the perfect resume telling the truth – but by being creative and expanding beyond traditional experience and skills, you can do your resume a whole lot of good.

Anyone remember the first rule of advertising from yesterday?

Grab Attention
This is one of two key ideas for formatting your resume – the second should be obvious, but isn’t always –

Keep your Resume Readable
Too much clutter may grab attention, but if it isn’t clear cut and easily readable, all that grabbing attention will get you is first spot on the line to the shredder.

For some truly insane and eye catching resumes, not all of which follow rule #2, take a look here.

Now, most of those resumes are designed for artistic or gtraphics industries – making the visual cacophony of some of them more acceptable to their market.

But some of the examples on that site suggest ideas that can work for any job seeker – displaying job experience as a time line, or skills in a bar graph will definitely grab attention, and if done well can be easily readable to the employer. Adding simple visual elements, like using an industry relevant image as the bullet point for a list of skills (telephone for telecommunications, stethescope for medical field, red check mark for education – I’d steer away from dollar signs for acounting – but that’s a personal opinion).

One simple way to make your resume stand out visually is to use different colored paper. A beige or off white paper is easy to read, and stands out in a sea of white paper.

How have you made your resume a visual stand out?

Whether you are just out of school, or have been working for years, it is helpful sometimes to sit down and think about what a resume is, before you start writing one.

Everyone will have their own view of what a resume is. I consider it to be a sales pitch. You are trying to ‘sell’ yourself to an employer, so they will hire you, instead of any of the other applicants whose applications come across the hr department’s desk.

And all the ‘usual’ rules of making a sales pitch apply –

  • Grab attention within the first 30 seconds.
  • Truth in advertising.
  • Show what makes you different from the competition
  • Tell them about the need that you can fill.

It’s important to keep these points in mind when you are writing your resume – they tell you a lot about what and how you should write it.

Grab attention – make your resume visually interesting, and your resume objective compelling.

Truth in advertising – do no exaggerate or lie about your experiences or abilities.

What makes you different – you are a unique person, not a collection of job data, let your potential employer see that person.

The need – they wouldn’t be hiring if they didn’t have a need to fill – what is that need and how will you fill it? (BTW – if they are hiring a customer service representative, they don’t need a customer service representative, they need excellent customer service that will encourage repeat business and promote good word of mouth about the company.)

Hello again.

This week is going to be all about resumes – what they are, different kinds, how to write them and more.

To start us off, here is a selection of articles and blogs that are great references for any resume writer –

Resume Articles
Best Resume Writing Tips – The name says it fairly well.

Resume Mapper – Link and information on a very useful resume tool.

6 Questions – Thoughts and advice on brain storming before starting work on your resume.

Resume Templates – If you work better with firm guidelines, check out info on resume templates, to help you color within the lines!

Cover Letters – An Essential Part of Every Resume Package – Because a resume by itself isn’t enough.

Resume Blogs
Blue Sky Resumes – a blog that focuses on everything about resumes.

Write Powerful Resumes – another resume blog by a wonderful writer.

Job Mob – This link is to a specific post on a more general blog that introduces some very unique and interesting ways of creating a resume.

Well, see you tomorrow, when we start with the bare basics – What Are Resumes – And Why Do They Matter?

Because after a long of working – or not working – everyone needs a laugh!

Cafe Press – Career related humor

More than Dilbert: A baker’s dozen of work related web comics

Videos – More humor in the workplace

Laugh, enjoy, and remember all the wonderful, funny awful things about work . . . hm, on second thought, this may not have been the best post idea after all . . .

As always, there is a lot more information and advice available then I can dish out! Check out these other sources:

Career change advice, suggestions, tips and resources for job seekers and those interested in a career change.

Cool Careers: If you are thinking about a career change, this site will help you find the information you need, from career advice to job search techniques, from student …

USAA: Changing careers? Our Changing Jobs Checklist helps make the process seamless. Learn more today.

All Business: If you’ve felt stalled in your career lately, you’re not alone. Many workers, faced with layoffs, changing technologies or corporate re-engineering have …

I do hope this goes without saying – but if you’re changing careers, you really need to think about changing your resume as well.

While you may know the work you’ve done has given you experience in managing small groups, writing reports or keeping track of expenses, that may not be obvious to an employer in a different career, with different assumptions and expectations. You can’t expect them to be familiar enough with your old career track to know the skills and experience it provided.

When rewriting your resume for a career change, make sure that you first cut out all the background clutter that isn’t explicitly relevant to your new career.

Of course, the correlation to that is to state, very explicitly, what makes your relevant experience . . . well, relevant!

Remember every step of the way – don’t assume the employers knows anything about your prior career. Explain in your objective why the career change is a good move for you, and how their company is a good one for you to move to. Explain in your experience how what you have done is relevant to your new career. Explain, explain, explain.

And don’t forget: Explain! 😉

Sometimes changing careers means going back to school. But bills don’t stop just because you’re in class – in fact going back to school creates new bills!

So how do you balance getting the education you may need for a career chance with actually having a career?

By learning smart.

Not all career choices require four-year degrees – and even those that seem to at first glance will often have back doors. Example: Going into counseling may look like it requires a psychology degree – normally a Masters or Doctorate. That’s 8+ years of school. However, social workers can get work in counselling also, and a license for social work only requires a 2 year associates degree.

Some careers you can work your way into gradually. A few weeks or months of training can get you an EMT certification, which is not only a good first step to a nursing or paramedic degree, it can get you a job at a hospital or health clinic, many of which will help pay for you to get a nursing degree.

Don’t forget – not all career paths even require college. While those interested in working a trade often go to technical or vocational school, some unions still have apprenticeship programs set up though master tradesman, so you can be working while you learn.

For those career changes that truly require a degree, part-time and online colleges are wonderful things. Online schools like Kaplan University are designed for people who need to hold down a job while they learn, with flexible class schedules that can work around your job.

Getting the education you need for the career change you want isn’t necessarily easy. But if you work smart, it is definitely possible.

Continuing our theme for the week . . .

So you’ve decided it’s time for a change – now what?

Deciding it’s time to do something different is relatively easy. Deciding what to do can be another matter entirely.

Here are a few thoughts that can help:

Career tests – Career tests can be either skills tests or personality tests. A good career test, like the Myers-Briggs personality test, can provide not only suggested career paths, but an explanation of why those careers would work for you.

What’s right?/What’s wrong? – It’s also a good idea to take a few minutes and think through what you have liked or disliked about previous jobs or classes. Don’t worry too much about field or subject – clerking it clerking no matter what the paperwork says. Instead think about what projects you enjoyed – organizing? writing? working with your hands? Whether you preferred to work alone or in a group, etc. What didn’t you enjoy? Did you hate being put in charge of a project, or auditing last years paperwork? Figuring out what you liked and didn’t like can help you figure out what career you’ll enjoy in the future.

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