Tag Archives: resume

Tracking Your Career Accomplishments

Accomplishement Jar_Rev

Here’s a fun way to keep your resume alive and your career mojo moving.

Late last year, I noticed people making “good things” jars. The idea is simple, write down the good things that happen to you throughout the year, decorate a jar (I am sure a vase will do in a pinch), and collect the stories.

So I decided to make one but instead of happenstance, happy moments that magically occur, I decided to record and collect career accomplishments and skills that I build throughout 2017.

It’s my “Accomplishments” jar and at the end of the year, it will be filled with career milestones, new skills that have been developed, and personal and professional achievements.

The lack of any of the above will provide me with insight on areas that need to be worked on.

I tell people that resumes are living, breathing documents that need to be visited on a regular basis. This statement is not new, but very few people are revising and updating their resumes on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis unless they are actively searching for new opportunities.

A few recommendations for maximizing the usefulness of your “Accomplishments” jar.

  1. Prominently place your accomplishment container
    Put your jar in a space that is visible to not only you but to visitors to your home and office. It is a great way to start conversations with others about your goals. They may have opportunities or advice that can help you fill your jar with a few more accomplishments.
  2. Think about your language
    We work hard to achieve and grow as professionals. Make sure every accomplishment you drop in the jar acknowledges your effort. No one gives us anything. We earn what we get and if you can not comfortably say that, there may be some things to rethink.
  3. It is not just a good idea or decoration
    This fancy little jar provides a nice, sort of fun, way to track your career development on a regular basis. Just think of it as a creative way to keep that resume up to date.
  4. Separate accomplishments from skills
    Be creative when documenting your growth throughout this year. Perhaps you can distinguish achievements from newly developed skills by using various paper colors. Making a distinction will provide an easy visual of where you are making progress and where gaps may be forming.

It is important to celebrate, document, and assess your career development. Doing all three while mixing in a creative, craft project is a win-win. Let the collecting begin!

”References Available Upon Request”

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Remember colored toilet tissue? It was odd, unnecessary, and probably a health risk. While including “references available upon request” may not cause a tumor, the other two adjectives fit. Much like that colored toilet paper, we have another customary resume declaration to leave in the past.

2. Adding “References Available Upon Request”

This habit is probably the most maddening. I want to shake clients who use it and automatically toss resumes that include it. It is a space waster and a simply ridiculous statement.

As a hiring manager, I realize that if I ask you for references you will give them to me. I would love to once, run into a candidate who says “no, I will not give you references”. It would make for a great story and make me wrong about this useless statement.

Instead of taking the time to append this awkward statement to the bottom of your resume, put your energy toward:

  • Reaching out to your references and letting them know that you are searching for a new role.
  • Asking new contacts if you can use them as a reference
  • Making sure you have correct and up to date contact information for them
  • Sharing job descriptions with them in order to make their reference targeted and informed
  • Asking them to write LinkedIn recommendations for you (those carry more weight than the canned endorsements that LinkedIn prompts from members of your networks)

Please, avoid the ire of hiring managers by removing this anti-climactic statement from the bottom of your resume. It serves no purpose and sticks out the same way a roll of blue toilet tissue sticks out in a modern twenty-first-century bathroom.

Are You Using Common “Career” Sense During the Application Process?

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Growing up, my mother had a favorite phrase, “common sense ain’t so common.”  What can I say, we are from Texas.  After spending the past six months reviewing application packets for everything from leadership awards to full time positions, my mother’s little quip has never seemed truer.

While I love the opportunity to interact with so many hopeful and talented individuals, I have worked in career development for over 15 years and there is no way for me to overlook the common, but unfortunate,  mistakes that people make.

Last week, when I could feel a rant coming on after receiving a generic resume that included a headshot, I decided to channel my frustration into something productive.  I challenged myself to impart some common career sense by providing reality- based tips.

Let’s start at the beginning of the process: submitting your application.  The majority of applications received are submitted digitally. There are pros for electronically submitting application packets including the ease of attaching and clicking submit. However this ease can cause people to overlook or neglect some very important factors.

Faux Pas: Being lazy with your submission

Common Career Sense Tip: If you are emailing your application materials, be sure to address your email/cover letter to a specific person. In many cases, it takes no time at all to visit the company or organization’s website and find out who will likely review your resume. Take the time to personalize the submission instead of using a generic and somewhat maddening salutation, such as “Dear Prospective Employer”. I promise you I’m looking at an email submission with this greeting right now and I’m not happy!

Faux Pas: Submitting your information in an unprofessional manner

Common Career Sense Tip: I’m still fuming after receiving an application packet from someone using an inappropriate email display name. If you are submitting career related information with an email address or display name that does not clearly identify who you are, change it now! Ideally, your display name should be your first and last name. Save the cutesy epithets for your personal email address.

At some point, whether it is program admission or a job application, you will have to provide a resume.  My resume is probably one of the most personal documents I’ve ever created.  It’s me on a page – everything I am proud of and a constant reminder of what I want to achieve in my career.  With that said, resumes are personal, but they are developed for a public audience.

Faux Pas: Submitting your resume in a program specific format

Common Career Sense Tip: Submitting your resume as a Word document does not mean that every reviewer will have an easy time opening it or that it will be formatted correctly once it’s opened. A person using the Google Docs may not see the document and formatting you want them to see. If possible, always submit your resume and supporting documents as a PDF.

 Faux Pas: Including unnecessary information on your resume

Common Career Sense Tip:   Editing your resume does not solely apply to spelling and grammar mistakes. Resumes should be edited for content as well in order to ensure that information included is relevant to the position and company you are applying to.  I don’t need to know everything you can do or have done in your past.  If you include a skills section on your resume, make sure the skills are relevant to the position you are applying for.

Faux Pas: Selling yourself short on your resume

Common Career Sense Tip:   There is no need to discount volunteer experience on your resume. I review resumes on a regular basis that relegate important, professional experience to a “Volunteer” category and use the “Work Experience” category for one or two temporary or low skilled positions simply because money was exchanged for the service provided. Create a broader heading (i.e. professional experience) and promote that “volunteer” experience to the top of the resume.