Communication ~Resumes

I need to go back to resumes because I have recently had quite a few that needed to be fixed and not because the information was bad…but rather that the information was the same…over and over…for every job listed on the chronological resume. Many people like to do a chronological resume because it is easier to list jobs in that order. The other types of resumes are the ‘functional’  also known as a ‘skill-based’ resume, the ‘combination’ which is part functional and part chronological and the ‘recent education’ that utilizes coursework and intern/extern-ships and any transferable skills from previous work that is unrelated to the education that was recently finished.

So let’s talk about that chronological resume and how it can be very repetitive — Let’s say that I was an Administrative Assistant for 3 years at ABC Company, prior to that I was an Administrative Assistant at DEF Company for 5 years, and prior to that I was an Administrative Assistant/Executive Secretary for JKL company for 2 years, and finally when I was starting out I was a Receptionist/Office Clerk at QRS Company for 5 years. I have 2 jobs that are the same in scope, and the secretary job which is very close to the Administrative Assistant, and then an office clerk/reception position which again has much of the same information…if I do a chronological resume it could look like this…(although this is a very watered down/partial version of a resume)

Administrative Assistant ~ ABC Company ~ San Francisco, CA ~ 06/2007-04/2010

  • Prepared invoices, reports, other documents, using word processing________________________
  • Answered phone calls and directed calls to ___________________________
  • Conducted research, compiled data, and prepared papers for ________________________
  • Attend meetings to record minutes
  • Greet visitors and determine ______________________________________________
  • Read and analyzed incoming memos, submissions, and reports to _________________________
  • Perform general office duties, such as ordering supplies, maintaining _________________and performing _______________________________
  • Filed and retrieved ____________________________________
  • Opened, sorted, and distributed ________________________________
  • Make travel arrangements for executives
  • Prepared responses to _____________________________________
  • Prepared agendas and made arrangements, such as __________________________________
  • Provided clerical support to ___________________________________________
  • Supervised and trained _______________________________________________

Administrative Assistant ~ DEF Company ~ Oakland, CA ~ 06/2002-05/2007

  • Prepared invoices, reports, other documents, using word processing________________________
  • Answered phone calls and directed calls to ___________________________
  • Conducted research, compiled data, and prepared papers for ________________________
  • Attend meetings to record minutes
  • Greet visitors and determine ______________________________________________
  • Read and analyzed incoming memos, submissions, and reports to _________________________
  • Perform general office duties, such as ordering supplies, maintaining _________________and performing _______________________________
  • Filed and retrieved ____________________________________
  • Opened, sorted, and distributed ________________________________
  • Make travel arrangements for executives
  • Prepared responses to _____________________________________
  • Prepared agendas and made arrangements, such as __________________________________
  • Provided clerical support to ___________________________________________
  • Supervised and trained _______________________________________________

Administrative Assistant/Executive Secretary ~ JKL Company ~ 05/2000-05-2002

  • Prepared invoices, reports, other documents, using word processing________________________
  • Answered phone calls and directed calls to ___________________________
  • Conducted research, compiled data, and prepared papers for ________________________
  • Attend meetings to record minutes
  • Greet visitors and determine ______________________________________________
  • Read and analyzed incoming memos, submissions, and reports to _________________________
  • Perform general office duties, such as ordering supplies, maintaining _________________and performing _______________________________
  • Filed and retrieved ____________________________________
  • Opened, sorted, and distributed ________________________________
  • Make travel arrangements for executives
  • Prepared responses to _____________________________________
  • Prepared agendas and made arrangements, such as __________________________________
  • Provided clerical support to ___________________________________________
  • Supervised and trained _______________________________________________

Receptionist/Office Clerk ~ QRS Company ~ 04/1995-05/2000

  • Compiled, copied, sorted, and filed _____________________________________
  • Prepared meeting agendas, attended meetings, and ________________________________
  • Communicated with customers, employees, and other individuals to ___________________________________________________
  • Trained other staff members to _________________________________________________
  • Reviewed files, records, and other documents to ______________________________________

If you read each one of those job descriptions you will see they are the same…of course there would be real variations where something would be left out because maybe at one job you didn’t prepare meeting agendas and at another position you didn’t train others…but for the most part the jobs are so similar that it doesn’t grab the attention of the reader…

So how do you capture the attention of the reader? In the next blog post we will talk about breaking this resume into skill sets…

Aloha ~ I have returned from my anniversary trip

Aloha everyone,

I have recently returned from Maui where Doug and I celebrated our one year anniversary. We were married there last year so we went back to celebrate. It was amazing and I am refreshed and gearing up to give you some great info so look for new things over the next few days including an interview with Edward Beanes, Job Development Specialist and Sociologist at Napa Valley College.

See you soon

Aloha

Communication ~ Interviewing ~ What are they looking for? (Part 3)

The question of the day was:

What are they looking for when they ask where you expect to be in 5 years?

They are hoping that you will want to grow with their company because it is very expensive for employers to hire and train new personnel but it is true that not everyone will be staying with the company so really consider what you want to be doing in five years before planning out this answer. Let’s take for example a person that I know that wanted to work in an office while going to college but expected to graduate and move on…and graduated but didn’t move on because she loved the job, people she worked with, and made decent money. The day she interviewed she answered the question honestly but threw in a curve. The answer was something like this…”Well, as you know I am still in school working on a degree in __________ and so when I graduate I think I will pursue my career of __________. I have always enjoyed working in an office doing administrative work and I know that I will give you 100% while I am here. Of course there is always the chance that the opportunities here will be worth my making this my choice for a career home.

Remember, if you are a student and you are taking a transition job and there is no upward path for you it is best to be honest and say that when you graduate you will pursue the career that you have been working toward.

Communication ~ Interviewing ~ What are they looking for??? (Part 2)

As you can see I have taken a break from the non-verbal communication aspect of interviewing because I have had so many questions come up from clients that are asking me “What are they looking for…I don’t know what they are looking for so I don’t know how to answer the questions?”

This is one of the reasons that career coaching is so very important…I can give you general ideas on this blog on how to answer a question or a series of questions but each person is different and each answer must be unique in its own way. Working with you individually I can help you formulate just the right interview answer for you and your situation and not a generic answer that won’t get you noticed or allow you stand out.

There is not one single answer that an employer is looking for but with the right information I can help formulate a great answer that will get their attention.

So what do they want??? They want you to stand out so they can say…”YES, that is the right person for this job!”

They want you to connect the dots for them so they have a clear picture of how you are going to benefit them by explaining how your previous employment will merge with this new position and how you will fit into their organization.

That is what I call it “connecting the dots” so they have a clear picture of where you came from and how that fits into their picture and gives them enough information for them to make an informed decision on hiring you. Now you may be asking about my saying “informed decision” but the fact is that most people don’t know how to give information in an interview…they don’t give information that will get them hired…they give information about what they have done and not what they can do for the new employer. Certainly it is important for you to talk about what you have done and absolutely you are proud of your accomplishments but that doesn’t mean that those things are what this new employer is searching for so that is the part about connecting the dots.

I will be deviating some from the non-verbal communication and I am not completely finished with it yet but when new clients ask new questions or have concerns I like to cover it here also because if one client is asking then there is a good chance that several others have the same question.

If you are reading this blog and you have a question just go to www.careercreate.com and send me a request to post something on your question. It may not be a complete answer because as I said it is nearly impossible to help formulate answers to individual situations without question and answer coaching sessions but I can give you general information that might help you out.

See you next time…

Communication ~ Interviewing ~ What are they looking for???

I had a client this week that brought up the question of  “underlying motives” when interviewers are asking questions. My answer is “YES” there is usually something underlying in the question. Most of the time I tell people that the underlying question is “Why should I hire you” and that you should tack that on in your head to each question asked…so the question is…Could you please tell me something about yourself (and why should I hire you)? What are your strengths (and why should I hire you)? Why do want to work for our company (and why should I hire you)?

But there are also other motives so if the question is “What traits or qualities do you admire in others?” the person posing the question is generally going to think that if you admire those traits in others you try to emulate those traits and/or that you possess those traits. Usually the things we like in other people are the things we like in ourselves.  It is about selling yourself so you want them to know those great qualities but what if we flip the question?

Now the question is “What traits or qualities bother you in other people?”

Often the things that bother us about other people are the things we don’t like in ourselves so how do we give an answer and not give the interviewer/employer pause? Of course it is not always the case that the things we dislike in others are traits we dislike in ourselves but it is an assumption that many people make so we must be prepared in the interview.

The best way to get through this question is to be honest about our traits and why it bothers us when someone has a trait that we have a problem with…BUT…you must put a preface on the answer…

I am a very organized person so I guess it bothers me when someone seems less organized, but in reality there are many different ways that people stay organized and mine isn’t the only way so I try to remember that.

OR

People tell me that I am honest to a fault, something I am working on so I make sure I am also tactful, but it bothers me when someone is dishonest because it isn’t necessary or right so I try to let people know that I prefer the truth even if it isn’t what I want to hear because it is important to me for the people around me to be truthful.

OR

There was a time in my life that I had trouble being on time for events and it made life harder for others so I worked very diligently and very hard to change and now it bothers me when others are late but I try to use my own experience to help them see they can change by making a few simple adjustments in their routine.

It is sort of like the “What are some or even one of your weaknesses?” It is about change and making ourselves better. It takes some thinking about what areas of life you are improving but that is what you should be talking about. It is important that you remember that just because someone throws out the word weakness…it does not make you weak…we all have things we want to improve about ourselves and so refocus on the question as areas of improvement and you won’t feel quite so panicked. Think of an area that needs improvement that you are truly working to improve and tell them what you want to improve and how you are improving.

The weakness question is not a time to throw out deep dark secrets about how you have trouble getting up in the morning or only taking an hour for lunch or even how many drinks you have in day…it is a time to look at yourself and pick an area that you really are improving.

Until next time…live life in the best way possible…

Communication in Career Planning ~ Why is it so important?


There are various aspects to career planning and in order to reach many of those goals you need to be able to communicate your skills and worth to an employer, to your network, and even to yourself.

The beginning stages of the career planning process are usually about setting your attitude for success and choosing goals. In order to do this you must be able to clearly articulate/communicate your needs, desires, and steps so you know exactly where you are going and how you are getting there.

One of the areas that we work with as we are defining your needs is to look for your transferrable skills, those skills that you already have that can slide from one job to another. Those skills could be hard skills such as computer knowledge or soft skills. Soft skills are traits of behavior such as flexibility, punctuality, honesty, and getting along well with others and again we are going to have to decide the best way to communicate those skills to a prospective employer.

Since your resume is often your first impression to an employer it is critical that your wording express exactly what you can do so you can grab the attention of the reader. Clearly communicating your skills, qualities, and achievements will give the employer a reason to take a second look.

After you have impressed them sufficiently with your writing skills and they want to interview you, then you must again show your superior communication skills to them while you are having a conversation during the interview. You will be asked a series of questions that you must answer and articulate your particular skills in relation to the job they want you to do. This is not as easy as it seems and it must be practiced…to be perfect. You must communicate with yourself; you must communicate out loud to either yourself or to others so you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it.

If you can’t say it to yourself how do you expect to communicate it to someone else?

Often the first question asked in any interview is “Could you please tell us something about yourself?” so you must be prepared to answer that question. The trick is to communicate and articulate how your previous experience, skills, and talents mesh with the current job opening. Most people know what they do, or have done in previous jobs but most people aren’t sure how to explain those skills, qualities, and traits to others in relation to something new. I have helped many people learn how to do this so they can be successful and I want to help you strengthen your communication skills in this particular area.

Being a great communicator is a skill like any other in which it must be practiced and continually upgraded to be able to be the best. We spend considerable amounts of time communicating with others in various way and they are all important to be aware of so we can use them to the best possible advantage.

Important thought for the day

Sometimes I think it is important to remember that we control our thoughts, our attitudes, and our actions. Today I had someone tell me that they learned a very big lesson recently when they blamed something on someone else and then lost what they loved. Our thoughts are important and we must communicate with others in a constructive way. I don’t usually get too philosophical in my blog but for some reason it seemed important for me to remind all of us that we control ourselves. So my thought for the day comes from someone that I read his books…

“Self-disciplined begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.”

Napoleon Hill
1883-1970, Author of Think and Grow Rich

I am sure that self-discipline can be intertwined with communication because we must be self-disciplined in our thoughts if we are going to create the image we want to project so I guess I didn’t really veer from communication totally today.

See you soon.

Communication ~ Interviews ~ Non-verbal Impressions (part 7)

Let’s talk about mannerisms and body movements ~ also known as nervous habits! Do you know what you do without thinking about it? Do you play with your hair, move your feet nonstop, scratch, use the word fillers of “uh”, “um”, “ya know”, “like”, “hhmm” or any others? If you are in a swivel chair…do you swivel? Well this time our blog is about those nervous habits and the fact that you must not only be aware of them, but you must overcome them before the interview! As a career coach I talk to people every day about their non-verbal communication

We all have nervous habits that we do and never even think about unless someone brings them to our attention. Today I am here to tell you that you must do one of a couple of things…either ask someone close to you to tell you every time you do something physical without thinking about it or you must do a self-assessment and decide and discover those habits that give out nervous cues and could possibly sabotage an interview.

These 7 parts of non-verbal communication during an interview have been designed to assist you to learn how to portray yourself with the utmost confidence. You are making great eye contact, standing up straight and tall, and you have a great handshake that doesn’t break someone’s hand nor is it sloppy like a limp noodle so why would we let our nervous habits ruin our chances? Simple answer…because we don’t know that we are doing them!

I coach people to sit in front of a full length mirror while they practice interviewing, or have someone else pretend to be the interviewer and ask the questions while observing and listening, or set up a video camera and watch yourself after you are finished. All of these methods work and depending on who you are…one may work better than others. Sometimes I will get a shy client that doesn’t want anyone else they know watching them interview so the mirror or video is the better idea but other times I have someone that doesn’t like themselves on camera so the mirror or other person is the better option. This is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong way to practice (except to do it silently in your head…it must be done out loud and visually).

Think about it…if you are an interviewer and you are trying to listen to an answer and the person is constantly tapping their foot…do you think you will have trouble concentrating? The answer is probably yes. I had a client once that had a “click” pen with them and every time he/she got nervous the pen would start going “click, click, click, clickity click” and it was very distracting. That client had no idea that he/she was even clicking the pen until I said something so now my advice is…NEVER bring a “click” pen to an interview. You do want to have a pen and paper, just make sure it isn’t a pen that you must click the button on top to make it work. I have another good friend that is consistently using the palm of his hand to flatten his hair because it is just a nervous habit. He is aware that he has the nervous habit, but not aware when he is doing it! Do you play with a piece of jewelry? Maybe you are just spinning a ring around and around on your finger without ever noticing that you are doing it…the employer will notice. There might be different ways they will perceive the action…one might just see it as nervousness coming through but another might get so distracted that they miss your entire answer.  A nervous habit can ruin your chances of getting a job simply because the interviewer got distracted and missed a very important answer.

Take a very good long look at yourself using the eye of a critic and practice NOT “clicking the pen”, “playing with your ring or earring”, “tapping your feet”, “swiveling in your chair”, or whatever YOUR nervous movements might be!

Communication ~ Interviews ~ Non-verbal Impressions (part 6)

We have covered the self confidence level at varying degrees but since it is such a key element we are going to continue to discuss it and reiterate the points of importance. (Considering that all levels are important…I will probably cover all of the points more than once and some maybe even more than twice…so let’s get started)

Being self confident is a major key to the sales and marketing aspect of selling yourself. Think for a moment of a time when you purchased a product that worked so well that you wanted to tell all of your friends and coworkers about it because it was so amazing. Now take that same enthusiasm and sell and market yourself because honestly you need to be excited about the quality of work you do and/or how much you love what you do so you can sell yourself to others.

Remember…you are both the sales person and the product so you need to be confident in what you do and what you are capable of doing. It’s not just about what you have done but you must show a potential employer that you are also capable of doing any work that he/she needs and of learning quickly with enthusiasm and flexibility. Of course you will be telling them as you are speaking but your non-verbal communication can say things that contradict what you are telling them. Let’s go back to eye contact for a moment because it is part of your self confidence portrayal and use the eye contact as an example. Let’s say you are telling the employer that you are an honest and forthright person but the whole time you avoid eye contact and when you do look up there is fear and indecision in your eyes that says “I am not sure that I am confident in what I am saying”. If you aren’t sure, or your actions aren’t showing that you believe what you are saying…how do you expect the employer to be convinced? Honesty shows and it is imperative that everyone is honest during an interview so you end up in a job that is right for you and right for the employer.

Remember that employers don’t expect you to know everything and they are expecting to have some training time go into the person they hire so if you portray confidence in your ability to learn and show that you want to do the best job possible then you might be the person hired even if you have less qualifications or experience than someone else. Enthusiasm can take you a long way because employers want employees with good attitudes and if you are excited about what you do and are confident in your abilities and employer will take a long look at you because it is important to productivity to have workers that want to get the work done and get it done well!

Of course your enthusiasm will show through as you are speaking but the non-verbal actions must match the words. It shows clearly when a person is enthusiastic, excited, and has a great attitude in their actions because when you are excited about something the animation starts, the sparkle shows in the eyes, and a person tends to sit up taller and convey the excitement in many         non-verbal ways. Self confidence show in body language and voice and since you KNOW that you are great at what you do…make sure that you portray that confidence in all ways.

As I close I will leave you with a bit of information that has to do with communication but not actually non-verbal…Did you notice that I made the word “know” in the above paragraph in capital letters and made it bold and italic? Well the reason for that is simple…you never “think” “believe” or “feel” you are anything…you are always…Confident, Sure, or You Know…always leave out words that portray you as unsure or have the “maybe” connotation to them when you are trying to portray your confidence in yourself.

Communication ~ Interviews ~ Non-verbal Impressions (part 5)

Last time we talked a bit about posture so first we will pick up and reiterate those points and then move forward. We have determined that as you walked in and shook hands you were standing tall and showing confidence; you sat down and sat at attention, not military attention, but a tall and straight posture again showing your confidence; but you are leaning forward just a little bit to convey interest in the process and the people with whom you are having a conversation. Interviewing is a conversation between you and the person(s) sitting across from you. Of course it just doesn’t feel like a natural conversation because of the nervousness of the situation, but make no mistake it is a conversation and you want to engage the other people by telling stories and asking questions.

There is no one way to sit during an interview and it is important that you are somewhat comfortable so you can feel at least a little relaxed but you also don’t want to be too comfortable so you start to look sloppy or arrogant. I know one person who likes to sit with his legs crossed with his ankle resting on his knee because he has very long legs and when there is a table in front of him the alternative is to have his legs stretched way out in front of the table. He sits down and pushes his chair back a bit and crosses his legs but he also sits tall and straight and leans forward to show interest. He could never be comfortable with his legs sticking out from under the table; it would undermine his confidence level.  As I said in earlier posts, I keep my feet on the floor in front of me so they don’t start doing their usual little dance and jiggle routine!  I have another friend who sits with hands on her lap and her feet crossed at the ankles. She likes her hands in her lap because if she does start to fidget it is less noticeable. You must be comfortable but not casual because you are not in a casual situation. I guess I need to take a moment to say “you aren’t in a casual situation…most of the time” but my clients that are truck drivers, service technicians, and construction workers say that their world is a bit different and it usually is more of a casual atmosphere. You have to be the judge of your own industry and if you aren’t sure…err on the side of caution.

Everything you do is some sort of a communication that you are conveying to the interviewer(s) so make sure you practice in front of a mirror, with another person, or use a video camera and find out what your non-verbal body language is saying.

Let’s talk about eye contact and how that impacts the impression you make. It stands to reason that if you are nervous you might want to look anywhere in the room except directly at the people asking you questions because you are fearful  they will see the fear and nervousness reflected in your eyes. The problem with that theory is that when you don’t look people in the eye it portrays fear, lack of  confidence, and even the impression of dishonesty to the person who’s eyes you are avoiding. A potential employer wants a confident and honest person in their employ so make sure you make good eye contact with each person as you are speaking. Remember that one person may have asked you the question but all panel members are rating you so you must try to give them equal time and respect.

Another factor of eye contact is the expressiveness that can show when a person is telling about an accomplishment that makes them really proud or when telling a story that describes a situation that shows the kind of person and/or employee he/she would be. People tend to get animated and expressive when telling stories that they are proud to tell and that animation can show through during an interview and the pride shows in the eyes and in the voice!

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Non-verbal communication is still communication
You have made it to the interview and now you need to make a great impression. What are your nervous habits? Do you really sit as straight as you think you do? Are you making eye contact? Watching the clock? Read more to ensure you are communicating what you want... Career Blog

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“Loretta is a highly experienced and productive professional in the field of Workforce Development, Job Readiness, Career Counseling, Workshop Facilitation, and Job Search Preparation. I have worked with her closely for over six years, and she has consistently been a valuable, key resource in the employment community. For three of those years, she was at Napa Valley College as a resource specialist in their career center... 
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