Questions and Answers with Career Expert Laura Labovich
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Laura M. Labovich is a nationally renowned resume writer, certified career coach and job-search strategist.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||You have a solid background in human resources. What is the most significant lesson you bring from your HR background that you apply to resume writing? What aspects of resumes drove you crazy when you were in HR that you now avoid as a resume-writer? What do job-seekers need to know about how HR folks view their resumes?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| As an HR professional in corporate America (prior to my career-coaching days), I would often scan a resume in search of keywords alone. I’d ask myself (in about 10 seconds or less): What job does the applicant want? Does his or her resume reflect skills and keywords of the job to which he or she is applying? Is there a header that is relevant, and does not include the old resume speak: “Seeking a job where I can utilize my communication, interpersonal, and computer skills” (too much about the candidate; not enough about the company!)? Does the resume speak to what he or she can do for my company, not simply what he or she did for previous companies? Does it tell a story?
In my HR days, attention-grabbing resumes were ones that:
In my private resume-writing and coaching practice, I now write resumes from the perspective of an HR manager; one who never did have the energy to fight to decipher the “fit” between a requisition and a candidate.
|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:||I have found that with the increase and accessibility of new and improved social-media sites, job-seekers can easily get caught up in trying to participate in all of them, and shortcut themselves in the process. In lieu of “getting out there” and attending face-to-face networking events (association meetings, alumni events, open houses, job fairs, etc.), job-seekers spend time behind their computer on the various and growing list of social and professional media sites; but are not doing themselves any favors. While utilizing Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter (and a small handful of others) is helpful in small but strategic doses, nothing replaces hard word in the form of cold-calling, informational interviews, direct mail, and traditional networking, and to have a robust, effective search, the old adage still prevails: one must power off their computer to power up one’s job search.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most exciting or hopeful trend in job-hunting?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Job search today has become much more transparent. With all of the new social media sites available to job-seekers (many of which are free), it is much easier to access contact information of decision makers within companies for whom you would like to work. Of course, as I mentioned, too much of a good thing can be bad. But, given the right strategy and willingness to really “work” the right sites rather than giving into the need to be on all of them, a job-seeker can tap into insider information much more quickly and easily than he or she could even a few years ago.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the one job-hunting secret you share with clients but that may not be widely known?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||As a former marathoner, I often explain the process of responding to online job postings in terms of exercise. Since many of my clients are also parents, I ask them if they have ever walked their kids to the bus and, 100 percent of the time, the answer is yes. I then ask if they believe that they can lose 20 lbs. simply by walking their kids to the bus and, not surprisingly, the answer is no. I equate this process to the practice of applying for jobs online. Job-seekers can still respond to online job openings (walking kids to bus), because often it is instantly gratifying and also easy to do, but most likely, they will not get a job (lose 20 lbs) doing it! They will have to add networking (healthy eating routine), and cold-calling/informational interviews (weights), among other things, to the mix to get them to the end goal — a job!|
|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:||I often tell my clients that they must fight the urge to say “I’ll take anything,” as this sentiment simply, in most cases, is not true. I ask: “Will you work in a funeral home? Will you build homes? Will you walk dogs for a living? No? Then, you won’t do anything.” And, the employers do not want to hear that anyway. For a job-seeker, especially during a downturn economy, “targeting” (or as my clients call it “pigeonholing” and “limiting”) may feel scary, but it is a necessary (no, essential) component of having an effective job-search campaign. If you can narrow your target down to only three entirely different job functions, that’s ok. Simply go after these targets (a target consists of a job function, industry/company size, and geographic region) separately and methodically; creating a new elevator pitch, resume, and targeted search documents for each. That is much more proactive, organized and structured than “I’ll take anything,” and will yield much better results in the long- (and short-) run.|
Laura M. Labovich is a nationally renowned resume writer, certified career coach and job-search strategist with more than 15 years of experience in recruiting, human resources, training, and consulting roles at Fortune 100 companies, including Disney and AOL Time Warner. As president of A & E Consulting, LLC (Aspire! Empower!), a job-search coaching practice based in the Washington DC, area, she provides customized job-search strategy and resume-writing solutions to individuals and groups, helping her clients increase their momentum and achieve breakthrough results in their job-search marketing campaigns. You can reach Laura at www.aspire-empower.com.
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