Archive for the ‘Job Hunting’ Category

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I have written a lot of resumes. If I had to guess, I would say that it’s probably near the 1,000 mark. In previous jobs, it was my responsibility to write killer resumes for people with less than stellar work histories….for example, maybe they had never worked in their career of choice, maybe they were job jumpers, or maybe they just got out of prison…..yes, that really happened. More than once. In fact, we had a whole program devoted to people who had mental illness and/or substance abuse issues who were involved in the legal system. But I digress…

My point is, that most of the job seekers in the world rely on your standard, chronological resume. This is fine, great even, IF you have a knock-out work history. If, however, you have moved a lot, switched careers, are thinking about switching careers, or had some unconventional jobs (for example, making license plates in the state penitentiary), than a functional resume is likely to be more your style.

So, what does a functional resume look like?

A functional resume highlights skills and attributes instead of work experience. Don’t get me wrong, you probably still need some experience, but your former jobs may not be as important as the skills you learned there.

The way I typically write a functional resume is a little bit different than most people, but I have found that it helps the resume to stand out from the crowd. One thing that is important to remember is that, while chronological resumes can sometimes break the “one-page” rule, I believe that functional resumes should really be only one page. Otherwise, it looks like you are just listing a bunch of stuff on the page with no real focus.

So, the headings that I use on a functional resume are as follows:

Name and Contact Information – (Obviously, just put your name at the top…no need to title the section)

Summary of Qualifications – 2 or three sentences explaining why you are qualified for the position you are applying to – looks better if you change this for every job you apply to. You can also call this an Objective, or you can simply write the statement with no heading.

Qualifications (or Skills) – I then break this section down into 3 separate categories, based on the job. For example, on my own resume I would break it down into Interpersonal Skills, Computer Skills, and Management Skills. I would then add 5 or 6 bullet points under each sub-heading. Be sure to list any relevant accomplishments in this section (saving or making money for a company is ALWAYS an accomplishment!)

Education – List your education.

Work Experience – List only the name of your employer and your job title. If your work history is pretty solid, you can add dates, but if you have jumped around a lot or haven’t worked in a while, I would leave them off. They’ll ask for them at the interview, but get your foot in the door first.

The Education and Work Experience sections are interchangeable. Put whichever is more impressive first. For example, if you have an MBA, but have only ever worked in fast-food because you just graduated, list your education first. But, if you have worked at GM for twenty years and only have a high school diploma, put your work experience first.

One Last Thing

I went through a period recently when I thought I wanted to change careers, but I was more motivated to relocate. Instead of having one resume and sending it out to everyone, I had 2 functional resumes (one for Marketing, and one for Consulting – neither of which I had ever done) and 2 chronological resumes (one for non-profits, and one for business management). I was very selective in who got which resume. Granted, they all had basically the same information on them, but they were worded and formatted specifically for the job to which I applied. I would highly recommend having at least 2 resumes (I may have gone overboard, I admit) for the purpose of sending appropriate material to your selected audience.

If you have a resume that you would like to have reviewed, feel free to email it to me. I’ll be happy to take a look. Please do not send attachments, though, because I won’t open them! Just copy it into the body of your email.

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Photo by movingcompanies

First of all, please allow me to apologize for neglecting the blog this week. It’s been a rough one. Please forgive me!

Now, on to the subject at hand. I’ve noticed a lot of articles recently about whether or not one should relocate for employment. Being a person who just relocated, and because I promised you this story a while back, I thought I’d give it to you now. Be forewarned…this is not a pleasant story, but it does have a happy ending.

Ok, so, I mentioned before that we recently moved to California after spending our lives in Michigan. I have already told you how I got my job in California, so if I won’t be redundant now. I do highly recommend obtaining a job in your desired location BEFORE moving, unless you have quite a bit of cash saved up for a few months of living expenses.

So, I got the job offer on February 29th, 2008. I was scheduled to start work on April 7th, 2008. Brian was scheduled to be out of the state for work for the entire month of March. What the hell was I thinking??? About a week after I got the job offer, I called to request that I not start until April 14th, 2008. Still rough, but it gave me a week of breathing room.

After researching moving companies, we decided that it would just be better (less expensive, no worries about where on earth our stuff was, no surprise costs) to rent a truck and move ourselves…..across the country…..with 2 kids and a dog…..and 3 other people………

So, I packed the entire house with the help of my family and friends, but not the help of my husband. He came home 3 days before we were set to move. He loaded up the truck and packed all of the outdoor/garage things. But, before all of that happened, our basement flooded….not once…..not twice…….but THREE TIMES!!! That resulted in a lot less stuff we had to move, which I guess was good, but I really did not need that stress.

Then, Brian did not get paid. We were expecting a $3000 check, and he didn’t get it. So, the day before we were supposed to leave, we had to refinance my car in order to have enough money to get there. Awesome.

Ok, so, we get the truck packed, have our going away party, and we are on our way. Here is what our convoy entailed: Me, driving our SUV, with our 2 kids and my mother, who is legally blind. She came with us to help with the kids. Bless her. In our sedan, was my cousin Tara, who drove, and my 73 year old grandmother, who came because she loves a good road trip and had never been to California.

Things went along swimmingly through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. Then we hit a big thunderstorm in Oklahoma, but that was ok too, because we left that state before it got pummeled by tornadoes, so we were very lucky. Texas was boring, but short, so that was fine too. It was Albuquerque, New Mexico, where all hell broke loose. First, The Girl got sick. She was barfing. I do NOT do barf, so I went into an instant panic attack. We stayed in a hotel that night, and when we were getting ready to leave, a very heavy door at the hotel slammed on my wrist, resulting in a trip to the hospital. I spent 5 hours in the ER waiting room, while people were having seizures across the aisle from me. I left without being seen. (Luckily, the hotel paid for all of our expenses, including both night’s stays, an extra day of truck rental, the hospital bills, and meals). We finally get out of New Mexico and into Arizona (meanwhile, the girl is still not feeling well…..we switched cars and my grandma and I had just The Boy). Almost as soon as we crossed that border, The Boy choked on a pretzel and barfed all over the backseat. We (well, my mom and Tara) changed his clothes on the side of the road, and he rode in the big truck with Daddy for the rest of the day. Then we got lost, almost ended up in Vegas, and almost didn’t make it to our new apartment before the leasing office closed. Thankfully, they were nice enough to stay late for us, and we didn’t have to pay for yet another night in a hotel.

Total cost of the trip, including the truck, gas, meals, hotels, etc, probably totaled about $5000. Oh yeah, and it wasn’t covered by my new employer.

So, was it worth it? TOTALLY! Brian and I have never been happier. We fit in much better out here than we ever did in Michigan. And who doesn’t love SoCal weather? So, as we celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary, we have entered a new, exciting, and fabulous time in our life.

I don’t know if this will help you with your decision on whether or not to relocate, but it was fun sharing it with you!

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Photo by geminicomplex


As I sit here trying to decide if I feel like buying a Sunday paper, I thought I would post my opinion on the use of classifieds for finding employment. I think the consensus among most professional is that newspaper classifieds are definitely old school, and the big job boards, or online classifieds (like Monster and Careerbuilder) are so huge that there is little chance of snagging a decent job from them. To a point, I do agree with that (I use the newspaper for coupons and for lining the guinea pig cage), but on the other hand, I have had great success with the job boards.

My Story

I have personally found my last 4 jobs on Monster and Careerbuilder. I think that the problem many people have with these boards is lack of follow up. Most people that I know post their resume, send it to a few employers, and then sit back and wait for the job offer. It doesn’t work like that, folks. Let me tell you about my last two job hunts, and how I managed to land the jobs.

I’ll start with the job that I had previous to the one I have now. I was attempting the stay-at-home-mom life, and found that it was not for me. I love my kids to death, but I am a much better parent when I am working. Anyway, I looked at the job boards, and only applied to those positions that I was qualified for AND interested in. Once I found a few, I then called the organizations and requested an interview. Lucky for me, I got in, made a great impression, and was hired. To be honest, I really believe there was some divine intervention involved, because I ended up with an ideal job and the best boss I had ever had, up to that point.

My second job was a little bit more difficult and more involved. Brian and I had decided to relocate from Michigan to somewhere with better weather (i.e., NO SNOW!). So, I started perusing the job boards once again. I happened to find out that the non-profit agency I worked for had offices in Southern California, and was hiring for a position that was a step up from what I was doing at the time. So, I applied via Careerbuilder (where I found the job), and then I immediately called the office and spoke directly to the Human Resources manager to let him know that I was interested, and that yes, I was currently out of state, but would love to schedule a phone interview. The phone interview was scheduled for a few days later, and that went quite well. I also asked the CEO of the Michigan office to send a letter on my behalf, which he did. Then, I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks.

During those few weeks, it became obvious that I needed to leave my current employer. The environment was toxic, and I was at a crossroads. I chose to put in my 5 week notice (4 weeks was mandatory, but I gave 5 for an extra safety net). I told everyone that I was moving to California, despite the fact that I didn’t have a job yet. I started praying….hard.

About 2 weeks later, I still hadn’t found a job. So I called the Human Resources manager back and said that I was still interested, and that I was going to be flying out to California that week (I actually wasn’t planning that, it just slipped out), and requested another interview. He agreed, and I literally flew out the following morning. He picked me up at the airport, I interviewed with him and my new boss, then they took me out to dinner and offered me the job. Then, 7 hours after I had arrived, I was back on a plane to snowy Detroit. Less than a month later, I was driving across the country with my family and belongings in tow (more on that story another time).

So, as you can see, I did not just send my resume out blindly and wait for it to be noticed. I took extra steps to get myself noticed, including multiple (but not annoying) phone calls and emails, and asking for someone with clout to vouch for me. I have been told that had it not been for those steps, they would not have taken the chance on me.

The Moral of the Story: If you want to use a job board, you’re going to have to put in the extra mile.

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Every so often we will post something related to job hunting with a disability.  While these posts will focus on specific issues associated with disabilities, quite often they also apply to everyone. 

One question that has come up time and time again is that of disclosure.  When should a person disclose their disability to an employer?  There are a few camps of opinion on this matter.  One camp believes that you should never disclose your disability, because it is not the employer’s right to know.  Another camp believes that you disclose your disability right away, so that you are not accused of withholding information.  Personally, I am a member of the third camp, who steals the underwear of the other two camps.  In my experience, this has worked the best.

When faced with this question, I often coach people to disclose their disability when it’s necessary, and not a minute before.  “So when is that?” you may be asking.  Lucky for you, I have come up with a formula, of sorts.

Disclosure on Your Resume or Cover Letter

Most people would say, “NEVER!!!!”  I disagree, but only in very specific circumstances.  If you are applying for a job where your specific disability would be an asset for your position, go for it.  For example, if you are applying for a position working with deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and you happen to be deaf or hard-of-hearing, then you will be likely to have a better rapport with the students, so use it to your advantage.

Disclosure Before the First Interview

I only recommend disclosure before the interview if you might need some sort of accommodation during the interview, or if you have found (in your personal experience) that your disability tends to make people uncomfortable.  I use this most often for persons with obvious developmental disabilities that require job carving and/or job coaches (If you would like more information on job carving or job coaches, please leave a comment and I’ll cover it in another post). 

Disclosure During the Interview

This one is almost a moot point.  In my experience, if you have a visible disability (i.e., you are in a wheelchair), disclosure isn’t usually necessary at this point even if you haven’t already disclosed it.  The disability is obvious, and no other information is necessary at this time.  If you have a more invisible disability (mental illness tends to fall into this category), I tend to tell people to keep it to themselves for a while longer.

Disclosure After the Job Offer

If you know up from that you need any sort of accommodations to do your job, this is when you ask for them.  You need to be certain that your accommodation is “reasonable” under the American’s With Disabilities Act (here is a good website to determine that) before requesting it, because the job offer could be retracted if your request is not “reasonable”. 

Disclosure on a Need-To-Know Basis

If your disability will not require an accommodation and is not going to affect your job performance in any way, this should be your tactic.  For example, let’s say that you have a mental illness, such as Bipolar Disorder.  You have been on your medication for several months or years, and have not had any episodes.  You know that, in order to maintain employment you need to take your medication and see your therapist twice a month.  However, you also know that an episode could possibly strike at any time.  So, you decide not to disclose your disability.  You take your medications, you see your therapist, and you keep your job.  Then, something changes in your life, and an episode is triggered.  This is when you should probably disclose your disability.  You will likely qualify for a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act, but you will need to disclose the disability.  My recommendation at this point in the game, though, is to work with your Human Resource Department, rather than your direct supervisor, only because the Human Resource Dept. will have far more knowledge and will be of greater assistance than your direct supervisor.

Have you ever had to disclose a disability?  How did it go?  Leave me a comment!

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Sometimes a resume comes to me that makes me wonder how this person has ever been employed in the first place.  There is one resume in particular that stands out in my mind, and I’m going to list a few parts of this resume that are of particular interest, and tell you why it’s so terrible, in case it is not obvious.


Let’s start at the beginning


Clinton Township, MI 48038


This is the heading on the resume.  I have not edited it.  There is no name, and no contact information AT ALL!  How can I hire you if you are anonymous????

Employment Experience


This person proceeded to list about 3 PAGES of work experience.  The fonts were all different, there was no logical form of outlining, and none of the jobs were at all relevant to the job he was seeking.  Here are a few of my favorite entries (Again, the fonts are as they were on the resume):


Hammell Music, Utica, MI

Piano Sales  June 2000 – August 2000

-Acquired experience in piano sales

 MBIG Music Business Internet Guide, New York, NY

Employee, August 1997 – August 1998

-Researched several unknown music web site locations.

 South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD

Student, August 1996 – May 1999

-Studied basic information about many woodwind, brass, percussion and string instruments through instrumental method classes.


 Asbury College, Wilmore, KY

Student, September 1989 – May 1994

-Studied basic information about many woodwind, brass, percussion and string instruments through instrumental method classes.


For the first two entries, I cannot for the life of me figure out how this person was an asset to either of these companies.  As for the 3rd and 4th “jobs”……….if you already listed your education (which he did) why are you using your student status as work experience???  FYI guys, being a student, difficult as it may be, does not qualify as work experience.  And by the way, your musical expertise does you no good in an administrative assistant position, unless of course you new boss enjoys having his memos sung to him and accompanied by the oboe. 



Is it really that special?



 Languages: fluent in both Spanish and English.

Computer Programs:

-AS400 (recording dealer calls, searching for customers’ information, checking Mopar library, assisting vehicle dealers with their needs, and many others)

-Power Point (for lectures)

-Microsoft Word (including cut and paste, copy, clear, screen-print, font size variation, and Microsoft graphics), willing to go through typing test to show the typing speed

-Outlook (calendar and email)

-Excel (using for Ford dealership information, mathematics), using this program in fun ways

-TASAR (reserving airplane tickets, getting voucher information, confirming reserved flights, answering questions about baggage allowances, giving airport telephone numbers)

-Appleworks 6.0 (Macintosh version of word processing)


Ok, first off, this formatting is just terrible.  He says he can use word, yet he can’t put in some bullet points or something?  And, why is the entire resume centered???  Also, while I didn’t show you the entire 4 page resume, he says that he is fluent in Spanish and English at least 2 or 3 times per page, so is it really necessary to put it here again???  My favorite line of all time though is the part where he says that he uses Excel “in fun ways”.  As an employer, do I really care how much “fun” you have with Excel?  No, I do not.


Now, before you start telling me what a mean person I am for ripping apart this resume for all to see, please know that it’s for your own good.  As someone who has done hiring before, I can tell you that had this resume come to me in response to a job posting, I would have thrown it in the trash.  I don’t want that happen to you.  In future posts, I’ll have some lovely examples on how a resume should look, I promise.


On a different note, I do apologize for my own terrible formatting on this post.  I’m still trying to figure out this blogging stuff!  🙂

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