A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (11/19/04):
- Providing key information about the power of networking
- Handling yourself at the company holiday party
- Outlining strategies for creating effective resumes
- Moving beyond getting fired after six months on job
|Q:||Phil writes: I am simply having no luck in job-hunting. I know you say networking is important but I have no network to speak of — and no idea of what to do about it. Why is networking really so important — and how can I improve my network?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Networking is an essential tool of job-hunting because of its potential. Networking is all about growing and nurturing a group of contacts including friends family former bosses and colleagues peers etc. It’s these contacts who can then possibly be in a position to help you when you are searching for your next job.
A common misconception is that networking is about asking people you know for a job. But networking is more about asking people to assist you in your job-search by providing information or connecting you with people in their network.
For example let’s say you really wanted to get a job with Brown & Brown Inc. You could simply apply for a job there but you would be just one of many unknown job-seekers to do so. But what if you had a contact within the company who could recommend you to the hiring manager? All of a sudden you go from an anonymous job-seeker to top prospect.
But what if you don’t know anyone who works at Brown & Brown? That’s where you ask the folks in your network to ask the people in their network if they know anyone at the company.
I could list hundreds of job-seekers who I personally know found their jobs through networking’ it is simply that powerful.
And how do you build/improve your network? By meeting new people. Certainly you should belong to at least one professional group but perhaps there is another you could join. Community groups are another option — especially if you are seeking a new job in the same location. Volunteering is another great way to meet people — and also do something rewarding. And of course there are a growing number of Web-based networking resources.
Get many more details about networking — including some great resources — by going to this section of Quintessential Careers: The Art of Networking.
|Q:||Jerry writes: Our company office party is coming up next week and I am seeking some advice so as not to experience the same problems I had at last year’s holiday party. I thought the idea was for everybody to have fun and blow off some steam but after doing just that last year my boss had me in the doghouse for quite some time. What’s proper and what’s not?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: From what I’ve heard and read more employers are bringing back holiday parties as a fairly inexpensive reward for employees who have worked hard this year. And I think holiday office parties can be a nice perk for employees assuming you know the boundaries and don’t blow off too much steam.
Holiday parties should be a chance to relax and unwind outside the office to celebrate a year of hard work and to enjoy the spirit of the holidays. It should be a time to see the boss — and perhaps even higher-ups — and socialize on a personal level rather than a work level. It’s a chance to build your network within the company. It’s a chance to show company spirit.
Unfortunately holiday parties can also be traps for some people — who somehow think it’s the perfect time to hit on a co-worker tell off the boss or get stinking drunk. And at one of my office parties I saw more than one person do all three!
Here are a few holiday office party do’s and don’ts to avoid the doghouse:
Do conduct yourself professionally at all times. Don’t use the office party as an excuse to blow off steam. It’s still a company function so proper etiquette and decorum matter.
Don’t pass up the invitation to an office party; not attending could hurt your reputation. And when you attend do spend at least 30 minutes at the party for appearances. But don’t overstay your welcome by partying until the wee hours.
Don’t bring the party lampshade gag gifts for the boss or any other crazy stuff you might do at a personal holiday party.
Don’t forget to thank the person responsible for the planning and coordinating of the party. And do consider sending a thank-you note to top management for hosting the party.
For more see my article Holiday Office Party Do’s and Don’ts published on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Heidi writes: What are some tricks to making resumes more effective? I am not having much success in finding a new job and at least one person has suggested my resume could be stronger. But how?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I don’t know about tricks but I can certainly give you some strategic pointers. I am constantly amazed at how many bad resumes I see on a regular basis — and with all the articles books and Web-based resources I simply do not understand how it is possible.
Let’s start with the purpose of a resume. A resume is a marketing document designed to arouse enough interest in a prospective employer to call you for a job interview. It’s a statement of facts — education skills and accomplishments — designed to show how you would make the ideal candidate for the open position.
A resume should focus on the positive. It should not include any negative information. It should also not include duties and responsibilities salary information names of supervisors or references.
And a resume should be tailored to each specific job each specific employer. Once you have your resume written you’ll want to modify it each time you send it off. From the job description and from the company’s literature or Website pull some of their words and jargon and incorporate them into your resume.
Finally consider adding some kind of summary at the top of your resume. You could use a keywords section a job title or a qualifications summary’ something that a hiring manager will see from a quick scan of your resume.
And please do not forget that looks and writing matter. Make the resume attractive and avoid all grammatical errors. Do not use a template but instead create your own format or borrow one from a resume you find attractive. And whenever possible have someone proofread your resume before you send it out.
For more help with resumes — from articles to tutorials samples and more — go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Resume and CV Resources for Job-Seekers.
|Q:||Randle writes: My question for you is how heavily do prospective employers consider the fact that you have been fired? I have asked others whether I should I remove this place of employment from my resume and most have said no because it will leave an unexplainable gap in my employment. I was only employed there for 6 months and was terminated because I didn’t fit in. I was told there was no room there for me anymore and they were going to hire someone else.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Your letter just goes to show how callous some employers can be. So sorry we don’t really like you and you don’t fit so see you later. Of course in some ways that employer did you a favor because it’s certainly better to find out sooner rather than later.
My opinion is that as long as this was not a dead-end job that you should include it on your resume.
There are several ways to judge whether you should put this job on your resume. You need to decide how important it is to your career advancement. If this was your first job in your field then you need to use it to show you have experience’ If you gained valuable skills from this job you need to include it. And if you have solid accomplishments you need to include the job.
On the other hand if you were taking classes or volunteering at the same time as this job — and you have something to fill the gap then you might consider omitting it.
Most importantly do not call attention to it. Don’t say you were fired. Simply list it as you do any other employment on your resume. Remember: no negative information on your resume.
Once you get to the next level of your job-search — the job interview — you will need to have an explanation about the short stint. And what employers are looking for is not any kind of excuse; what employers want to hear is what you learned from it so always look for a positive lesson.
Being fired can certainly be traumatic and job-seekers sometimes feel as though they have been branded with a big ‘F’ on their foreheads but you need to clear your head and move on otherwise your lack of confidence will come through in your job-search.
Read more in my article Getting Fired: An Opportunity for Change and Growth published on Quintessential Careers.