The Career Doctor: Career Advice for All
A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Readers: 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.
Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis. 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.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (9/22/06):
- Understanding basic elements of creating a teen resume
- Dealing with a demotion on resume and in job interviews
- Clarifying the look of a qualifications summary on resumes
- Deciding whether to put 2-month stint job on resume
|Q:||Katie writes: Hi my name is Katie and I am currently a high school student who desperately wants a part-time job for after school and weekends. My mom says it’s okay as long as I keep my grades up. I want to impress people when I apply for jobs so even though I don’t think I need one I want to develop a resume. Can you give me some pointers?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I think it’s great that you are seeking a part-time job and I’m glad your mom gave you permission to do so. There is a lot of evidence that shows teens gain a greater perspective on working on careers and on time management skills by working part-time while attending school. But I also agree that school should be your main focus so don’t let your work interfere with school or attaining the grades you need.
While you do not technically need a resume to find a part-time job it is helpful to do so for two reasons. First you will stand out from all the other teens who apply for the same jobs because the vast majority of them will NOT have resumes. Second a resume is a document you will need the rest of your working life so you might as well learn some good habits now on how to develop a resume.
The basic elements of a teen resume include: contact information job objective education and experience. If your resume is not a full page with these elements you can also include these optional elements: skills and community service.
Do not use a template to develop your resume unless you are just not comfortable starting with a blank page.
Remember to keep your resume focused on your objective (obtaining the part-time job) and always always spell-check it and have at least one other person proofread it for errors. It might also be useful to have a parent or other adult critique your resume and make suggestions for improving it.
For more detailed help we now have a teen resume writing worksheet published on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Anonymous writes: Here’s my situation: New CFO wanted to make changes and was also unhappy that I had retained a poor performing employee. The CFO told me I could leave or move to a smaller role in the company. I have been in that role for 2 years and would like to leave for another company in a mgmt. role similar to the role that I had initially. How should I address the termination/demotion in a resume and during interviews? Also my compensation was reduced when I was moved to the lesser role.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Anytime you take a lateral or backward step in your career — and many do you have to be prepared with a story to explain your logic in making that move. So your first step is to develop that story. Why did you choose not to leave back then? What have you gained from staying these two years? You do not need to be brutally honest with your story but you do need to have a positive spin on the outcome.
Just remember to never say bad things about the CFO in your story. You can say you had a difference of opinion but you never want to go any further. Any job-seeker who says something negative about a former boss or company is often pretty quickly eliminated from consideration.
Second focus on your accomplishments from all your previous work experiences. One of the weaknesses of many resumes I see is a lack of results. And whenever possible quantify those accomplishments.
Third sharpen the focus of your resume. All resumes need to clearly define what the job-seeker can do as well as what s/he wants to do. And especially for someone in your position where you are now seeking the position from which you were previously demoted it becomes critical to show you are ready for the job again.
|Q:||Marcey writes: I’ve heard that writing a summary of qualifications or summary of skills section on the resume is important but I can find almost no in-depth informative information on why this is so or how to do it. The sources I have been able to find seem to have contradictory information — bullets vs. paragraph etc. Can you provide some information and some clarification?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First remember that there are very few agreed upon rules of resume writing. Just about everyone has a pet thing they love or hate related to resumes. Thus your best bet is to follow the generally agreed-upon rules of resume development — and these are the rules I talk about in this column and on my Website.
The qualifications summary — sometimes also referred to as your professional profile or summary of accomplishments — has become a pretty widely accepted element for resumes. I love them because it sharpens the focus of the resume and gives the reader a quick overview of your most important qualities. I think of the qualifications summary as the executive summary of your resume. And when employers only have 10 seconds (or less) to make a decision about your resume a well-written qualifications summary can be your edge.
The qualifications summary should include the three or four attributes that make you unique and best qualified for the job you seek’ your key selling points.
I personally prefer a bulleted list in the qualifications summary because the bullets make it much easier (and faster) to read. However it is not wrong to have it as a short and concise paragraph.
Finally you can use a job objective and qualifications summary together to give your resume an even sharper focus.
Read more of my suggestions for resumes in key elements and rules of resumes published on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:|| Aldon writes: I read your website with great interest and was thinking you could help me in my situation.
I’ve resigned my job of 2.5 years looking for a better opportunities and prospects. I found a new job about 2 months ago. However I feel that the way the management manages the company is very unprofessional and I was never paid for my very first month. (Basically this company has cash flow problem so I can forget about my bonus!) I have decided to resign during my probation period. I need to look for a new job however I don’t know how I should indicate this job of 2 months on my resume. (I like this job scope but I do not see my long term growth and prospects in this company.)
If I do include the job how should I do it such a way that I do not reduce my chances of securing an interview? And during interview how should I explain to prospective employer of my plight?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Remember when developing your resume that the resume is not a depositary of all your experiences and accomplishments — just the ones that will help you attain your next position. Note: I am not advocating adding material that is not true to your resume but rather editing it to contain only the most important and relevant information to the position you seek.
That said in most cases I would be tempted to not include the most recent job. Your time there is too short and it sounds like you only have negative things to say about the company — and you never want to say those things when you are trying to explain why you only stayed with the company for 2 months.
In today’s job market many people go much longer than 2 months between jobs so keep it off your resume. If you do decide not to include it you may need a story about what you have been doing since you resigned your previous job.
Your situation is also a good lesson for other job-seekers to understand: when job-hunting you must learn as much as you can about the companies where you interview — including the corporate culture management style financial stability and growth prospects.
It’s also important that the company you work for respects your values. For help identifying some of these values go to this Quintessential Careers assessment: Workplace Values Assessment: Do You Know the Work Values You Most Want in a Job and an Employer — and Does Your Current Employment Reflect Those Values?