Monday, February 20, 2006

Help Me Change Careers!

This is based on a question one of our readers sent. “I’ve been in software sales for about ten years and I’m tired of it. I’ve been successful but I want a position that isn’t so ‘intense’ and that doesn’t have me traveling 3 nights a week. I don’t have a clue how to go about making a change though without starting over in an entry level position (and salary). Can you help?”

It’s not easy to give up the security of a successful career. But, sometimes it’s about work/life balance. More time at home and less stress can make taking a lower paying position worthwhile. Here are some ideas on how to find your next great, successful career:

  • Make a list of the things you like to do. Not just on the job, but your hobbies and interests should be listed as well. If you had a choice (disregarding money) what would you want to do every day that would make you happy?

  • Taking that list, do a keyword search on some of the major job boards. This will give you some ideas about the types of positions available that use these interests and skills. Do the same search on some of the search engines for even more ideas.

  • Now that you know some of the types of positions you might be interested in, start to refine your list. What experience do you already have that would be important to your new employer? In other words, what “bridge” can you find from where you are to where you want to be?

  • Use previous industry experience to find a new job in a similar industry. In our reader’s case, he has experience with a software company. Perhaps his passion is education and he might be great at a software training position.

  • Find companies that utilize these positions. There are numerous sites on the Internet that let you research companies to find this information. Visit their website to learn more about them and then contact them to let them know of your interest and what you can offer.

  • Network. Who you know is at least as important as what you know. Let your friends and business associates help you with ideas and getting your foot in the door of a new company.

Remember, it’s not impossible to change careers at any point in your life. It’s never too late to find something you can be excited about every day and truly look forward to doing!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Get Your Resume Read!

Whether you’re sending your resume directly to a company, responding to an ad on the Internet or emailing your resume to a recruiter, there are some basics that will help you get your resume read by the right person. Take a look at these tips before you email your next resume:

  • Include your resume in the text of your email. Make sure when you do a cut and paste to include the document that the formatting is still clear. If you have bullet points or other formatting characters, clean those up to make the resume presentable in the body of the email. Attach a copy in MS Word as well.

  • Use only MS Word attachments. With the proliferation of computer viruses, many companies will either block or automatically delete emails that have .exe files, graphic files or any other type of file attached, included .zip files.

  • Although .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) is an acceptable resume standard, many automatic database programs used by companies can not read these attachments. If you are using this, include your resume in the body of the document and consider attaching it in MS Word as well.

  • Avoid fancy formatting. Companies receive a large volume of resumes and almost all of them automate the process of initially reviewing the resume. Information contained in a text box or as a graphic may not import into their system.

  • Don’t use headers and footers. If your contact information is in the header and footer it will be lost by some of the automated systems and the company will not be able to contact you.

  • If you’re responding to a job posting that has a reference number, use it. This makes sure your resume goes to the proper hiring manager for a current position and helps get your resume reviewed more quickly.

  • Don’t send an email with a link to your resume on the web. This requires an extra step (or two!) that many recruiters will not take.

  • Be sure to include a subject in your email. Due to viruses, an email that arrives with no subject is likely to be deleted without being opened.

  • Look over your resume to make sure that it includes keywords that would fit the job you are applying for. Automation has created more of a need for this since a keyword search often will be the way recruiters determine who they will call first for a position.

  • And the best rule: keep it simple. A one page resume that lists your accomplishments in an easy to read style is still the best resume to get the job!
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