Archive for January, 2011

Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

Jan 11 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Quitting a job is never pleasant, but it does not have to mean a hit to your reputation or your career. With a little planning, you can leave your current job with a strong network and positive recommendations for your new employer thereby allowing you to quit your job without burning bridges.

Even the most devoted employees have moments where they might fantasize about quitting a job with an angry tirade, leaving a scorching trail in his or her wake.  Recently, as the workplace has become increasingly demanding for those lucky enough to have a job, stories like this one about a flight attendant who quit his job by activating and using the plane’s escape slide (See http://gothamist.com/2010/08/09/jet_blue_flight_attendant_activates.php), can gather a lot of steam in the media. As fun as this might sound, the smarter move is to make a calm, practical plan for leaving your job.

With a little forethought, you can make sure your transition from your current workplace is as stress-free as possible for both you and your current employer.  These tips will help you make the experience positive and productive.

  1. Give plenty of notice.  Your company may have a policy requiring workers to give employers a certain amount of notice before they leave, usually between 2-4 weeks.  If possible, give your employer at least a week more than is required by the policy.  This will give you plenty of time to wrap up or efficiently pass on any unfinished projects, potentially help train your replacement and gives your employer time to find an ideal candidate.
  2. Stay focused. It’s easy to check out of a job once you’ve given your notice, but it’s important to stay focused and productive. Your loss is going to cause a ripple in the workplace, and will probably be a burden to more than just your supervisors. Don’t make it worse for your peers and co-workers by slacking off at the end.
  3. Plan to stay connected. You’ll likely want to keep at least a few of your co-workers in your professional network, so make sure you have contact information or connect on a site like LinkedIn or Facebook.  At the very least, get some email addresses and phone numbers of the people you’ve really enjoyed working with, and those who might be willing to serve as references for new opportunities.
  4. Get letters of recommendation.  Like asking for a raise or preparing for a performance review, asking for a letter of recommendation requires some prep work on your part. Gather up evidence of the positive things you’ve done for the company and talk to your supervisors, peers and those who answer to you about providing a letter of reference.  If company policy allows, you might be able to get recommendations from clients you’ve worked closely with, as well. Having letters of reference on hand before your job search can save a lot of time and energy later.
  5. Be a model employee.  Your last weeks at a job are as important as your first weeks to make a good, lasting impression.  You never know when you may encounter the people you currently work with again, you don’t want them to have the wrong impression about you.  Show up early, stay late, get your assignments in early and go the extra mile to help out when you’re needed. You’ll impress not only your supervisors, but also the co-workers who may be worried that they’ll be unduly burdened when you leave.
  6. Leave your workplace cleaner than you found it.  On your last day, take a few extra minutes to make sure your workspace is clean.  Take out the trash, dust your desk, make sure there are no paper scraps on the floor and that all the company equipment and supplies are in order.
  7. Be honest.  If you’re leaving for a specific reason related to the workplace or working conditions (See http://humanresources.about.com/od/whenemploymentends/a/quit_job.htm), speak to your supervisor or human resources about why you’re leaving.  This isn’t the time for emotional rants, but if you have legitimate concerns you should explain them calmly, with any relevant evidence in hand, to the people in charge.  If your company offers you an exit interview, you should take advantage of that, as well.

Leaving your job can be uncomfortable, but the better prepared you are in advance, the more likely it will be that you can leave without burning any bridges letting you and your former employer feel good about the experience.   By putting in the extra effort, you’ll be the employee everyone is sad to see go, instead of the one nobody can wait to see leave. Continue Reading »

Comments Off on Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

10 Tips for a Polished and Effective Resume

Jan 06 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

There are a lot of things to consider when doing a job search, including honing interviewing skills, presenting a professional appearance and activating your network to help you find opportunities.  All of these are critical to your job hunt, but the most important factor – the one that will hopefully get you in the door at all – is your resume.

As someone who’s interviewed a lot of job hunters, and read over all my friends’ resumes, I can tell you with some degree of confidence that most people write terrible resumes.  It’s not a skill that comes easily to a lot of people, and that’s okay.  I’m here to help. 

  1. Always individualize your resume (http://www.mit.edu/~career/guide/resumes.html).  While it’s much easier to have a resume ready to send to any prospective employer printed out or saved to your hard drive, it’s better to make sure your resume aligns with the tone of the company and the particular job you want.  If you’re applying for a programming job, focus on more on your skills and experience in the coding language with more prominence than your non-relevant skills.  Use keywords from the job posting and the company’s mission statement to hone the language in your resume.
  2. Bullet points are your friends.  It’s safe to assume most HR staffers or others doing the hiring don’t have a lot of time to spend on each prospective employee.  Instead of writing a long, complicated sentence explaining that your sales figures consistently rose 5% month over month for the past year while you juggled three major accounts and lead the company retreat, look how easy this is:
    • Individual sales rose 5% each month
    • Managed accounts for Widgets, Inc., HAL Computers and ACME LTD
    • Lead company retreat
  3. Don’t let the resume design overwhelm the resume content, part one.  Casual font lovers, I’m looking at you.  If there’s ever a time at all to use Comic Sans (http://sixrevisions.com/graphics-design/comic-sans-the-font-everyone-loves-to-hate/), that time is most definitely not in your resume.  The classic fonts are classics because they’re easy to read on a screen or on a page, and because they look professional.  If you just can’t bear to use Times New Roman, consider Georgia, Garamond or a clean, crisp Helvetica.  In addition to picking a smart font, use font sizes wisely.  If you’re using your name as a headline, it should be noticeable without being enormous. 
  4. Don’t let the resume design overwhelm the resume content, part two. (http://www.squawkfox.com/2009/04/24/free-resume-examples-with-resume-tips)  No matter what your field is, your resume needs to be easy to read.   Reject fancy formatting unless you are confident you know what you’re doing.  If you use a popular word processing program, it probably comes with several resume templates.  Scan these, and do an internet search to look for ways to make sure your resume’s design is clean and easy on the eyes. 
  5. Be easy to find. Make sure all your contact information is up to date, and include multiple ways to find you, like your email address, phone number, Skype contact, etc.  This may seem obvious, but I’ve read a lot of resumes with no contact information at all.  This leads directly to number 6…
  6. Make sure the internet makes you look good.  Companies will search for you online.  If you’ve got stuff on your social networking pages you don’t want a potential employer to see, tweak your privacy settings so only your friends can see the content you don’t want an interviewer to know about.  Run your name through a few search engines, as well, to make sure there are no surprises, or an indicted embezzler who shares your name.
  7. For the love of all you hold dear, proofread your resume several times, and then make your smartest, wordiest friend or family member proofread it for you.  Then proofread it one more time for good measure. (http://www.resume-resource.com/resumeblog/are-recruiters-laughing-at-your-resume-writing-skills/1261/) We all make typos, we all have words we struggle to spell, and writing smoothly is trickier than it looks.  In short, spend more time checking your resume for errors than you spent writing it. 
  8. Be honest.  What’s worse than lying about your skills to get a job you’re not qualified for?  Having a job you’re not qualified for.  Additionally, it’s nearly impossible to get away with in the internet age.  Everyone can find everyone, and if you can’t do what you say you can do, someone will be able to figure that out.  Many larger companies are enlisting the help of outside companies that do extensive background checks (http://www.sba.gov/content/performing-pre-employment-background-checks) on potential employees, it’s highly unlikely a lie won’t be caught.

Searching for a job can be stressful and frustrating, but writing a good resume doesn’t have to be.



Comments Off on 10 Tips for a Polished and Effective Resume

Top Job Search Websites

Jan 04 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

You are looking for a job. Your resume is ready. Your cover letter is polished. Your dreams of finding the perfect job are vibrant. Now what? It can be a little overwhelming figuring out where to start your search. The first step is to keep yourself organized. Start a “Job Search” folder with sub folders that hold your resumes (you should have multiple resumes if you are considering multiple fields), cover letters, and references. You may even want to start a spreadsheet to keep track of the applications you submit. Now it’s time to dive in.

During a tenuous job search, you must be strategic. There is not one website that will have every job listed in one consolidated place, but there are many websites that do a good job of listing most of them. Below is our list of “must visit” free websites that offer a great place to start your search.

  1. Indeed: This website is listed first because it is the best consolidated list of jobs that we have found. Indeed.com pulls jobs from many different job boards, which will offer you a variety that you just can’t find anywhere else. They have a useful app too, so if you have a smart phone, definitely upload Indeed’s free app. The app and website talk to each other, so if you “save” a job from your phone, it will show up in your “saved jobs” when you are logged into your computer. Another feature is that Indeed will save your searches on the left side of your screen or on your app home screen, so each time you log in you can easily repeat searches with a simple click. It also shows you in a bright red number how many NEW jobs have been listed in that category since your last search. Indeed.com should be the first step in your job search.
  2. Simply Hired: SimplyHired is very similar to Indeed, but occasionally lists a different variety of jobs. Plus, they have humor and make your job search a little more enjoyable than normal.
  3. LinkedIn: If you’re not already signed up on LinkedIn, do it today. LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. Your profile is your resume and gives other professionals a real snapshot of you and your job history. LinkedIn is unique because you can only connect to people that you have worked with, done business with, or personally know. Each one of your “connections” are linked to your job history, which weaves a web others can see. The more people you connect with, the larger your web, and the better chance you have of being introduced to key hiring managers. You can “follow” companies you are interested in working for and keep up-to-date on their job openings as they happen. You can also see if any of your connections are connected in any way to the companies you want to work for. You can search for jobs on LinkedIn. Although there are not a lot of jobs posted, you can get a much better snapshot of the players involved in hiring. If you find a job on another website that you want to apply for, use LinkedIn to look up the company and see if you have any connections that link you to that company.
  4. TheLadders: For executives looking for high-level positions, TheLadders only lists jobs on your level. They specialize in jobs that pay over $100,000, so this is one of our favorite job websites because it takes out the clutter. You can search for jobs for free, plus post your resume and set up job alerts. Many times you can not access the job contact information without joining for a nominal monthly fee, but you can Google the job title and often find the information elsewhere for free. Most of the jobs posted are put on there by job recruiters hired to find the right executive, so they will occasionally reach out to you if they find a job that fits your experience. If you make less than $75,000, this website is not for you and you will not be granted even a free membership.

These websites should be visited in addition to searching on local job boards. Although most local jobs will show up on one of the above websites, your local newspaper, TV station, and government websites often offer unique opportunities. Be sure to check the careers section on company websites that you are targeting. Many companies only promote their jobs on their website. Job searching will be a challenge, but stay organized and you will get through it!

Comments Off on Top Job Search Websites