Questions and Answers with Career Expert Georgia Adamson
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Georgia Adamson founded A Successful Career/Adept Business Services.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||The Qualification Summary or Profile section is a popular and relatively recent addition to contemporary resumes. Some employers seem to think these sections help sharpen a resume’s focus while other seem to feel they are filled with unsubstantiated fluff. What’s your take on Summary/Profile sections? What is their purpose, and how can the job-seeker maximize the use of such a section on his or her resume?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| If the summary or profile section is weighted in favor of nice-sounding soft skills that don’t deliver a sense of impact (in terms of value to the employer), reviewers will probably skip right over it. They’ve seen “team player with strong problem-solving and communication skills” too many times! I view this section as an opportunity to highlight strengths and expertise the individual has that have a direct bearing on his or her ability to perform well and contribute value in the targeted environment.
Ideally, therefore, any soft-skill items that are included should be selected on the basis of what the employers say they’re particularly looking for and phrased in a way that carries a message of value. For instance, a globally oriented company might be interested to know that the applicant has demonstrated the ability to deliver “on-time completion of complex projects requiring coordination of diverse groups worldwide.”
Finally, it’s important to identify the key hard skills (profession-, industry- or position-specific) that employers are likely to look for and to make sure those skills are well represented in the summary, as well as throughout the resume wherever appropriate. This is true whether the resume will be searched electronically or viewed by a human being. If reviewers don’t see key elements they’re looking for, they will switch to the next resume very quickly.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||There’s an age-old debate about how long resumes should be, with many job-seekers afraid to exceed one page. Do you follow any particular rules about resume length? What factors should dictate how long a resume should be?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| One of my professional colleagues said years ago that a resume should be long enough to do the job — no longer and no shorter! I agree with him. Of course, that means observing some common-sense guidelines. For example, if you’re straight out of college and with limited work experience, there’s almost no way you can justify having a two-page resume. On the other hand, if you’re a CEO or even a senior technical professional, with an extensive background that needs to be included, one page is ridiculously inadequate.
The point to consider is: What is your value-added message to prospective employers, and what/how much do you need to tell them in the resume to communicate that value to them strongly enough so they will be motivated to pick up the phone and call you? The resume doesn’t need to — and shouldn’t — contain your entire work history without regard to potential value, but it does need to convince employers that you could be an active contributor to their ongoing success. It must sell your value to them, early and often. It should also avoid unnecessary repetition of same or similar items, which increase the length without enhancing the message you’re trying to send.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most disturbing trend in job-hunting today?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Without a doubt, the most disturbing trend I find is the growing off-shoring of jobs — not just the typical manufacturing/blue-collar area that we’ve seen for many years but highly skilled, white-collar jobs touching diverse professional disciplines and industries. This situation has begun creating a climate of uncertainty and even fear among many people, both employed and unemployed, about their future. It’s an issue we need to find ways to deal with, but we’re not there yet. I believe job-seekers and employees who may inadvertently become job-seekers will need to take a very alert and informed approach to what is going on in this area to give themselves the best chance of coping with the trend effectively.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest mistake job-seekers make that your advice could correct or prevent?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Probably the biggest mistake [job-seekers make] is focusing too much on what they want and not enough on the employers they’re hoping to work for. Along with that goes the failure to put enough intelligently focused energy into planning and conducting their search. I emphasize intelligently focused because you can put a lot of energy into spinning your wheels or running-in-place, which gets you nowhere! It has always been important and has now become crucial to research prospective employers — their current situation, future goals, and competitive challenges — and try to identify how you can use your skills and experience to the employer’s advantage.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking employment that meets your needs, giving you satisfaction as well as good pay. In fact, it should be part of your process — just not the No. 1 basis for your actions. Employers won’t hire you because you’re a nice person or because you need a job. They want people who can do what they really need and do it well.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||We frequently hear from mature job-seekers — in their 50s and beyond, but often even in their 40s — who are having a particularly difficult time finding a job. Is age discrimination a reality, and if so, what can the mature job-seeker do to overcome this discrimination?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Few people believe that age discrimination disappeared when the employment laws were changed. It may have decreased somewhat, but it has also become more sophisticated and difficult to detect or prove. Unfortunately, the fact is that with more qualified people unemployed or underemployed and seeking work, the competition for positions has increased significantly and companies can be more choosy without getting caught discriminating based on age.
If a company is bent on discriminating and doing it too cleverly to be caught, the mature job-seeker may not be able to do much about that and might, in fact, not be happy working there if he or she somehow actually managed to land a job there. However, in less extreme situations, it’s possible and desirable to start by making sure your resume emphasizes your strengths and value while minimizing or omitting age-indicators (old dates, outdated technology, etc.). You also need to communicate your enthusiasm for what you do and what you can offer, clearly and compellingly — appealing to the company’s self-interest.
Throughout the process, including the interview, you must focus strongly and consistently on how you can help the company’s success, competitiveness, profitability, and so on. Make it a point from the beginning to anticipate and develop persuasive counter-arguments for potential objections based on age, such as declining energy or inability to learn complicated new technologies. Realize that those objections will often not be voiced and that you may need to find an appropriate way to communicate your rebuttals indirectly.
Since founding A Successful Career/Adept Business Services in Campbell, CA, in 1991, Georgia Adamson has assisted thousands of resume and career-management clients, from Silicon Valley to worldwide locations such as Hong Kong, Chile, and Saudi Arabia.
She holds the following professional certifications: Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC), Credentialed Career Master (CCM), Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP), Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). She has also created and presented career-related workshops to professional groups, college students, and other audiences.
Her work has appeared in nine books, including Gallery of Best Resumes (3rd ed.), Expert Resumes for Computer and Web Jobs, Cover Letter Magic, Professional Resumes for Accounting and Tax Occupations, and Professional Resumes for Executives, Managers, and Other Administrators.
Currently, Georgia is in the process of developing a second Website focused heavily on career coaching and related topics. She also writes occasional articles for the Going Global Website and serves as one of the site’s U.S. country advisors. In addition, she is debuting a career-related column, “Career Smarts,” for a weekly community newspaper.
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