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How I intend to help my daughters secure jobs they would like – Part 5 – Preparing a Killer Resume

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

My two elder girls are almost ready to join the rat race. I am discussing with them the things they could do to better position themselves to get the job of their choice from the employer of their choice. And not to repeat the major mistake I have made of not managing my career.  

In Part 1, we covered an overview of the process. 

In Part 2, we covered the additional employability skills they would have to familiarize themselves with.

In Part 3, we looked at the realities of life as an employee as compared their past years as students. 

In Part 4, we looked at how to look for and understand the career options available to them.

Now in this Part 5, we talk about the all important resume.

Wikipedia defines a résumé as a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education usually for the purpose of obtaining an interview when   seeking employment. Often the résumé or CV is the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker, and therefore a large amount of importance is often ascribed to it.

You know what they say about first impressions. As the resume is the first thing a potential employer sees about the applicant, we have to make our resume jump and stand out from the pile of other resumes that the employer would receive.

There are two parts of the resume:

a)    The Content and

b)    The design or style or format, i.e. how the final document looks like.

A) Content

i) The grand daddy rule of the content part should be “Do not lie”.

ii) The second rule is from my favorite career counselor, Free Money Finance and I paraphrase from his very useful “How to write a winning resume””“The way to sell yourself in a resume is to cite specific strengths and abilities that companies need from someone in the job you want and support them with your accomplishments.“

In my daughters’ case, there will be some slight twists. As this is their entry into the working world, the instances they have to quote would be work related or applicable achievements in their extra curricular activities in school and college. Like the instance when my daughter was part of the fund raising committee of the Leo Club in her college and they raised RM200, by drawing tattoos for fellow students and selling herbal eggs.

Another step would be to understand and anticipate the requirements of the job applied for and state our readiness to be able to comply. For example, audit trainees generally have to work quite long hours since the audits usually carry tight deadlines and are bunched up during certain times of the year.

Being comfortable in making presentations to a group of people would be a plus if the job involved marketing or training.

FMF also says that we should do some creative writing so as to make our resume sparkle with accomplishments. This would force recruiters to invite us for an interview. This makes absolute sense.

Yahoo Finance reminds us to keep the resume short and to quality check to eliminate misspellings and other obvious gaffes. I could also do with this advice. I blush with embarrassment whenever I read a post of mine and detect such obvious grammar and spelling errors.

These days lots of resumes are submitted online. Yahoo Finance also talks about the differences between a paper version and its online cousin. The writing of an online resume would be akin to SEO optimization, as it seems that the filters might reject submissions without the required minimum number of keywords corresponding to the skill set of the available position.

“The purpose is not to look like an individual, it’s to look like a match,” says Pat Kendall, a career coach in Tigard, Ore., who optimizes clients’ résumés for online submission.

B) Design 

I am quite hopeless at this. However I ran into 2 very useful guides.  Life Clever’s excellent step by step face lift he did on a typical run of the mill resume. And in about 4 steps he (she??) managed to “Cinderallise” the resume. 

And for even more design options, look at JobMob’s Beautiful Resume Ideas that Work. 

I thank them sincerely for their selfless sharing.

I have sat at both sides of the interviewing table in my career. I know how easy it is to toss out a lousy, insipid resume. I also know that just by reading a resume, you can come to a conclusion that this candidate is the one who would be solving all our problems.  

The resume is the door opener. We have to make sure our resume not only gets the door open, but also get us invited for the interview. 

Actually the resource links that I have used in writing this post were given to my girl just before I left to India to attend what turned out to be my mother’s funeral. My daughter has done justice to these resources and come up with a resume, which I think, I would have opened a door for. 

Her resume is being used now to actively seek interviews. I’ll post on this process in the next installment of this series.

Picture Credit: Google Images

How I intend to help my daughters secure jobs they would like - Part 1

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

I have written a number of posts on preparing my elder two girls for joining the rat race. I think I have to do a lot more. 

Our eldest girl, Along, has told me that she wants to stay on for a while in Wales when her final exams are over. (This may be subject to a separate post later). Her younger sister, Azah finishes her finals on the 10th March 08, and would be coming home with her bags, books and baggage from her hostel immediately after. She may take some time off at home, and then it would be time for her to join the rat race. 

I have no wish for my children to make the same mistakes that I did in failing to manage my career properly.  

So I intend to plan and try my best to instill in Azah some of the steps she can take to have an advantage as she takes her first steps in her working life. 

I have formulated a plan or rather the matters that I should research carefully and talk to her about. This plan is based on the lessons I have learnt in not managing my career. (Looks like my failure is of some use after all). 

a)  Additional Skills to pick up 

I have to add on to what I have written earlier. She should have at least some grounding in the needed skills to make her more marketable. Skills that employers need, not the E = mc squared kind of stuff. 

b)    Getting her mindset appropriately tuned for employment.

My wife and I have given our daughters a relatively sheltered life. They have never gone out to do any part time work during their school or varsity holidays. Starting work without having at least an understanding of the real life of a working gal might be a culture shock for them.  

c)     Preparing a killer resume

One that will stand out from the hundreds if not thousands of resumes that should be flooding the Malaysian entry level market these months. 

d)    Discussing and drawing up with her the list of qualities or characteristics that she wants in the employer of her choice. And helping her identify the companies that may fit this description. 

e)    Discussing and drawing up with her the list of job or career classifications that she thinks would fit her aptitudes and like. I do not think I can use the word passion here. I believe it would take some time before settles and she finds her calling. 

f)      Researching the companies and key decision makers in the companies that fit the list.  

g)    Seeking the interviews and preparing for the interview. This may take some time as it’s an employer’s market out here. My eldest brother’s son took almost 5 months before he secured his first job. That, too, was in another State. 

I have to remind Azah about our theory of perseverance if ever she feels down during this time. 

h)  Post interview strategies and tactics.  

I also want to extend this exercise a little so that she also starts off her career on the right foot. I have to dwell upon her building and maintaining her network, being able to communicate well and to make as many presentations as she can and develop her brand as an employee. 

(Though there are blog articles and advice on the Internet on this, her mother would be much better placed to guide her on corporate dressing). 

Though I like Dividend 4 Life’s idea of weaving stories into lessons, I think it would be more appropriate for our younger children.   I think I’ll treat this exercise as being about the most important project I have on my plate right now, do solid research, prepare my presentations to her well and take it from there. The Millionaire Mommy herself has said it much better than I could ever have. To quote her:    

                                    This is parenting with a purpose  

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