Monday, June 22, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the job hunt


My daughter lost her beloved job and we are both pretty devastated. It hurts to lose a job you loved. You have to grieve. For one day.

Then it’s back to the drawing boards.

As a freelance writer for almost 30 years, I look for a job everyday. Of course, now it’s harder because some of my fellow writers have decided to sell out for $8 an hour or even $1 (no zeros) a story.

I have learned, though, that blanketing local employers with “To Whom It May Concern” letters is useless.

Call—get a name. Even call the person first and say you would like to send something, such as a letter of introduction or a resume.

Don’t blab in cliches—enclosed please find, etc. Lose the texting abbrevs, etc.

If you want to leave out a lot and not look overqualified or just fill in gaps where nothing was happening for you, some people use a “functional” resume format—with skills emphasized. This is raising flags these days. What are you hiding?

I recommend formatting by your greatest strength. If you worked for big-name companies, emphasize that. If your titles were Director or Manager, highlight the title first.

Try to cut out a lot of blather, like your height and weight or even references unless they are asked for. And don’t put “References provided on request.” They know you will do that.

If your old field is withering, try to adapt your skills to a newer one--emphasize the people you supervised, classes you took, money you saved or earned the employer.

If you do provide references, customize the list for each requester.

Don’t get too creative. If job requirements are listed, parrot back the same words in your answer. Some resumes are checked by computer for matches. Or by a lower level employee who isn’t going to puzzle out your rewording.

Ask the interviewer what the next step is. When can you expect to hear. If everything seems good, offer to work on a trial basis. What do you have to lose? That doesn’t mean free. It just means you’re ready to roll.

If you are er, older…by all means don’t say: “I have forgotten more than you’ll ever know, sonny.”

Not good. Trust me.

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