This class was taught by Brian and he actually has taught resume classes at a college level. So we were so blessed to have him come share his knowledge with us.
Manage Your Expectations
First, he shared a quote from How to Write for the World of Work. “You must enter the job market mentally prepared. Seeking employment will thrust you into many competitive communication situations, both written and oral.”
For each job that you apply for there will always be other people also applying. So going into the process with proper expectations is important. Otherwise, you might give up or become discouraged at the first hint of opposition.
Imagine a triangle. At the top point is your purpose – what you hope to accomplish. On the bottom left angle is Information and the bottom right angle is Audience. You need to tell the right information to the right audience in order to accomplish your purpose.
In order to do this – you must take some time to research the company – know the qualifications, know what the company does, and see if you can find someone who is already in the position for which you are applying. Quite often people are willing to help and appreciate the opportunity to be the “expert” so don’t feel like you are pestering by asking for help.
Above all, remember that your audience is in a hurry – so accomplish your purpose quickly!
As you share information about you do it in terms of the audience – do not tell them about what you hope to accomplish – they want to hear what YOU can do for THEM.
Cover letters are a great place to start. The purpose of the cover letter is to get them to look at your resume. Then your resume is to get them to schedule an interview and on from there.
What to include in the cover letter. Look up a template online to get the proper spacing and then sit down and brainstorm what will best help impress the audience.
The cover letter should include:
- Tell what job you are applying for and how you heard about the job
- Show that you know something about the company
- Highlight the strengths that are on your resume that apply specifically to the job. Use the job description.
- Request an audience
- How to contact you
No two cover letters are the same – if you seek a position in education then the cover letter can be as long as you want. But for a lot of other jobs, you need to quickly highlight your strengths as the employer mostly likely will not have much time to spend on it. This is another thing a mentor can assist you with – knowing what kind of cover letter is appropriate for the job you are seeking.
Another helpful hint – most industries have a website or two that everyone in the field goes to – for example – Brian was at a ball game and sat next to a man writing about the game for a local paper. That man told Brian about journalism.com – one of those must know websites if working in that field. Again, a mentor can help with this – or seek individuals who are already in your field of interest for inside information.
There are two basic types of resumes – chronological and functional. There is no magic formula to tell you which one would be best for you or for a particular job opening. The United States Department of Labor has several examples of cover letters, applications and resumes.
Some general pointers though:
- might be more effective when switching fields – because it accentuates your strengths and skills versus your previous work history
- template will cover areas of the job descriptions – so the skills listed down the left side of your page need to come directly from the job description.
- as with all resumes – use numbers or percentages when possible – like suggested at the beginning of the post – back up what you say
- still list the jobs you have had – make one section experience – you do not want to seem like you are hiding something
General Resume pointers:
- Resume should only be ONE page
- Begin each bullet with a verb. Do not use first person
- Think of what the employer will care about for each section – what will benefit them the most
- Use facts and numbers to back up what you say; and don’t be vague making them wonder what you meant – they will probably just disregard it
- Have two formats – one to mail or attach by email and one without formatting when you need to copy and paste the resume into a text box
- List most important information at the top!!!
- Look for unexpected things that could apply – inventory everything you have done that might apply to the job
Brian shared a couple of experiences about cover letters that he wrote for previous job opportunities. When applying for a job as a teacher one of the qualifications was to have experience with English as a second language – he listed that he had taught students from India, China, etc.
Another example of finding something unexpected – he applied for a job somewhere and part of the job dealt with Boy Scouts – he used his achievement of being an Eagle Scout as a strength.
At the end Brian shared his more personal feelings – God wants us to be happy. He understands the great deal of stress that the provider of a family feels. And because of that God wants to help – even if just to lift you out of discouragement.
The class was well taught. Thank you so much, Brian. My husband might not jump up and down about me sharing more person information but isn’t that what blogging is all about? I was really touched by Brian’s’ comments – especially at the end. My sweet husband is a classic overachiever. He has a large family to provide for and he will do, do, do until he breaks. After the class I shared some of my feelings with my husband again and finally he realized the point I have been trying to make. So for my husband’s sake I will not go into more detail, but I know – God wants us to be happy.