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Archive for January, 2006

Chances are, when you reflect on your college experience, you’re going to remember things like your 21st birthday (or at least the beginning of it) and graduation day.  But although it’s not as exciting, writing your first résumé a rite of passage that’s crucial to your future.

When your professional experience is a little thin, selling yourself on a sheet of paper isn’t easy.  But this great CareerBuilder.com article offers important tips to get you started.  Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:


1. Start with the basics.
Your résumé should include your name, address, phone number and a professional-sounding e-mail address.  Kegstandqueen69@hotmail.com won’t cut it.  Instead, use johnsmith@email.com.

2. Include an objective and summary of skills.
For example:
Objective: Editing Position
Summary of Skills: Excellent writer proficient in copy editing and familiar with AP style. Extremely organized, with ample experience meeting deadlines and working in high-pressure situations.

3. Choose the right résumé style.
There are three basic types of résumés: chronological, functional and combination. Chronological résumés focus on work experience, and list professional experience in order from most to least recent. Functional résumés concentrate more on skills. A combination style, well, combines the two. 

4. Brainstorm your experience and skills.
Don’t discount the skills you gained through part-time jobs.

5. Your academic and volunteer experience is relevant.
Show off major projects you completed, or highlight leadership roles in extracurricular organizations.

6. Know the cardinal rules of résumé writing.
Keep it to one page only, use strong action verbs, and don’t forget to
proofread.

7. Never, ever lie.
Bottom line:  If you lie, you’ll get caught… and you won’t get hired.

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The night before your interview, you spent hours on the Internet making yourself an expert on the company.  You spent the whole day meeting interviewer after interviewer while suffering in your pinching heels or suffocating tie – and you nailed it.

I hate to break it to you, but you’re not done yet.

Being a stellar interviewer isn’t enough – you also have to be polite.  In a recent CareerBuilder.com survey, 15 percent of hiring managers say they would automatically dismiss a candidate who didn’t send a thank-you letter after an interview.  An additional 32 percent would still consider the candidate, but would think less of him or her.

Here are some thank-you writing tips from Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder.com’s senior career adviser:

Some thank-you writing tips from CareerBuilder.com’s senior career adviser:

  • Stick to three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, thank the interviewer for the opportunity. Use the second to sell yourself by reminding the hiring manager of your qualifications. In the third paragraph, reiterate your interest in the position.
  • Fill in the blanks. Thank-you notes are a great way to add in key information you forgot in the interview, clarify any points or try to ease any reservations the interviewer might have expressed.
  • Proofread carefully. Double-check to be sure your note is free from typos and grammatical errors. Don’t rely solely on your spell-checker.
  • Be specific. Don’t send out a generic correspondence. Instead, tailor your note to the specific job and the relationship you have established with the hiring manager.

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Don’t expect finding your first post-college gig to be a breeze, but at least it could be worse – you could have graduated in 2003, when the job market was much worse.

In 2006, for the third year in a row, employers are planning to increase the number of new graduates they hire, according to a new report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Employers say their No.1 hiring challenge this year will be competition for qualified grads – especially for those with business, engineering and computer-related degrees.  Maybe that’s why your career fairs will seem so packed this year.  Almost 54 percent of employers who responded to the NACE survey say they plan to be on campus in Spring 2006 to woo new graduates.  Only 42 percent came in 2005.

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Chances are, as a college student, you’re already on a networking Web site like Friendster or The Facebook.  (And if you’re not, your friends are and you just use their password.)

You probably already know these sites are a great way to keep in touch with high school friends and find out more about (i.e. stalk) that hottie from history class.  But you can also use these sites to help find a new job. 

Try running a search of a company name or industry in which you’re interested in working.  It might turn out that one of your friends has connections that can help you in your job search.

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In my last entry, I outlined some of the nation’s most practical jobs – i.e. ones with high pay and good job prospects.  But if practicality just isn’t your thing – or you really want to shock your parents with how you’re using that college degree – you might like this list better.

CareerBuilder.com recently asked workers about the most unusual jobs they’ve ever held, and offered some tips for how to get them.  These were the top picks:

A: Actor for haunted house
B: Bingo announcer
C: Clown for rodeos
D: Drawbridge tender
E: Eye glass buffer
F: Fingerprint analyzer
G: Glass sculptor
H: Hot rod builder
I: Interpreter for government agency
J: Jelly doughnut filler
K: Karate instructor
L: Lifeguard at nude beach
M: Military role player (played Iraqi citizen for military sensitivity training)
N: Note taker for college students
O: Ocean scuba guide
P: Phone psychic
Q: Quiz writer for competitions
R: Rescue squad for pets
S: Stand-in bridesmaid (for weddings where the bride didn’t know enough people)
T: Telemarketer for a cemetery
U: Urinalysis observer
V: Voice-over specialist for movies
W: Window washer for skyscrapers
X: X-mas tree decorator
Y: Youth boot camp instructor for juvenile offenders
Z: Zoo artificial inseminator

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Even though there’s still a full semester left, (i.e. long enough that you can still afford to be optimistic or picky), you do need to keep your job search grounded in reality.  You (or your parents) have dropped tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on your education, so it’s wise to aim for a career with good job growth and a good salary, right?

The following jobs not only made the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of fastest-growing jobs, but they also topped the list in terms of pay.  Click here for the rest of the best-paid jobs.

1. Computer systems software engineer — $81,140*

Computer systems software engineers work to coordinate a company’s computer needs and maintain its computer systems. They may also set up a company’s intranets to ease communication between the various departments. Most jobs require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer information systems.

2. Computer applications software engineer — $76,310

Computer applications software engineers use programming languages such as C++ and Java to design, construct and maintain general computer applications software. Most jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, but some more complex jobs require a graduate degree.

3. Biomedical engineer — $70,520

Biomedical engineers combine biology, medicine and engineering to develop ways to solve medical and health-related problems. For example, they may research and develop artificial organs or prostheses. Employers usually require a graduate degree — even for entry-level jobs.

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Maybe you don’t plan to get those grad school applications in until the night before the deadline.  Or maybe you’ve had them in for months and you’re starting to see the interview invitations and acceptance letters start to trickle in.

Whether you’re applying or deciding, grad school’s no easy choice.  After all, you’re considering where and how to spend the next one to six years of your life.  There’s a lot more to a school than its slot on a list, but the U.S. News and World Report grad school rankings might be a good place to start.

The magazine lists the top business, law, medicine, engineering, education, social sciences and humanities, health, public affairs, fine arts, science and library science programs in the nation.  The site only lists the entrance requirements for the top three, but you can get more information by paying for a premium subscription.

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