Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Resume SOS for Latinos

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
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Given the state of the economy and what I do for a living, in the last few weeks I’ve seen my fair share of resumes. Most, I have to admit, were really bad. Not that the person who handed me the resume had no qualifications, but judging from their resume, they certainly had little chances of getting hired.

What makes someone throw away your resume before they ever get halfway through? Here are a few turn offs:

  • Spelling or grammar mistakes, including capitalizing things that don’t need capitalizing or vice-versa, not using a capital when needed. (No matter how often you’ve heard this, I bet you that you still have more than one mistake on your resume.)
  • Using a general objective such as: “Find a position where I can apply my experience as a sales manager.” Why would I hire you versus anybody else when everyone wants exactly the same thing? If you’re going to use an objective, make sure it matches the job you are applying for.
  • A detailed list of basic tasks such as: “Typing letters, answering the phone, making photocopies.” You should always focus on what you bring to the table. Do you have a great “can do” attitude? Are you a dynamic “problem solver” that is constantly thinking ahead to lower costs, increase sales, expand customer base, etc.? That’s what an employer wants to know: what is your value, what were your achievements at your past jobs. Even if you had an entry level job as an assistant or secretary you should be able to convey what your value was.
  • For recent grads, an “education” section that just lists the name of the school and major. You need to include your GPA, any awards and merit scholarships you received, special courses you took, projects you participated in, non-profits where you volunteered, extra curricular activities you were involved with, etc. Just because you just graduated, doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to offer.
  • The wrong format. Many people use the Latin American format of listing their oldest job first and the newest last. Don’t. The first thing on the resume should be your most recent job. Also, if you are old enough to have lots of experience, resumes can be two pages long so don’t try to fit everything on one page. Writing in small type and leaving no white spaces is another sure way to get your resume discarded.

    Undoubtedly, the best way to write a resume is from the perspective of the recruiter who will read it. Think about what they are looking for, what kind of person would fit well in their organization and write from that angle.

    As most employers ask for resumes to be emailed (and as hopefully you’re also using some job boards to post yours) don’t forget to customize your resume to each job application using keywords that match the job description. Resumes are reviewed by software that selects those that have the largest number of words matching each particular job posted.

  • Best way to find a job

    Monday, March 23rd, 2009

    Have you seen the lines of people applying for jobs every time there’s a job opening or a career fair? Have you actually stood in one of those lines yourself hoping to land a job?

    My question is: What are the chances of you getting a job for which there are thousands of applicants? If you take into consideration the waiting, the frustration, and the anxiety you experience as you talk to other unemployed people, it is definitely not the best way to spend your time.

    Volunteering in a project or organization you care about is a much more effective way to invest your time. You get to develop meaningful relationships with people who share your interests and who appreciate your dedication, you stay active and you might even learn a few new skills that will come handy when you find work again. And as 70-80% of jobs are still found through networking, building a stronger network is a better path to employment than anything else.

    But there’s an additional benefit to volunteering: you get to discover what you are really passionate about, something critical in a time when you might need to change careers or the industry where you work. Realizing that you are good with people and that you’d rather spend time helping them get healthy than, say, trading stocks, is a great first step towards a more fulfilled life.

    Take the opportunity to seriously explore your options and to connect your skills with your knowledge and passion. You may be surprised by how good it feels to do something you love even if it means you will make less money or that you will have to create your own job. Speaking of which… I think this is the way of the future. But that’s the topic for a different post!

    Let’s change our attitude

    Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
      Monument in honor of jews killed in WWII. A great way to honor lives; the metal leafs move with the wind.

    I grew up in Argentina, a country that had –and continues to have– it’s fair share of good and bad times. (Although more bad stretches than good!) Every time I go back, regardless of how good or bad things are going, people say: “You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.” That phrase blocks their ability to plan for the future, something many Latin American people have trouble doing. I feel, that is very much what’s happening to many of us here, in the U.S. right now.

    It’s easy to fall prey of the bad news and the generally depressed mood out there and to stop doing all the normal things we used to do. From eating out, to buying groceries and going to the movies. It’s not only that the economy is in poor shape, but the way in which we handle the situation makes things worse.

    I propose a change: let’s stop complaining about how bad things are and begin looking at ways in which we can continue to be productive and creative. Let’s exercise those creative muscles that get atrophied during good times when you don’t have to think about how to make do with less.

    So, why don’t we take a good look at what we have (our health, our family, a roof over our heads, whatever the case may be) and be grateful for that. And then let’s focus on what is still working, what companies are still hiring, who is making money in this economy and why. Then, let’s try to adapt ideas that are working for other industries to ours, whether it’s a process or a type of partnership or the target audience those successful companies are focusing on.

    Only by shifting gears into a more positive outlook will we find the opportunities laying right in front of us.

    The benefits of volunteering

    Monday, July 28th, 2008

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      I know, volunteering is not part of the Latino DNA.In most of our countries, non-profit organizations have only recently started to make a dent in our consciousness and in our time.

      When I was growing up in Argentina, the most people would do is volunteer in church or sometimes at the school PTA.

      Yet, volunteering is a big part of life in America. People belong to clubs, and professional associations; they are Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts leaders; they head committees at work and at the local hospital. These are all places where they develop strong bonds with others in the community. Just keep in mind that through volunteerism they not only give back to society but they build powerful connections as well.

      If you ask the top ranked people in your organization on how many boards they sit, or in how many organizations they volunteer their time, you’d be surprised to notice a correlation: the higher the position someone holds the larger the number of volunteer jobs he/she holds as well. What does that tell you?

      Look for opportunities to serve your community (the best ones are those that relate to your passions) and you will be rewarded for your dedication with something extremely valuable: trust and connections.

      New media and you

      Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

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        I just came back from a great New Media conference organized by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

          It was a fabulous event where journalists got together to learn more about blogging, podcasting and developing slideshows in order to expand their career opportunities.

            The truth is that regardless of what you do, you need to constantly update your skills because no job will remain the same with this rapid technological revolution. Having your own blog or website may be a great way to broadcast your talents to the world. Several of the presenters at today’s conference commented that they received many job inquiries and offers through their website, which is, no doubt, one of the main reasons you should consider building your own. The secret is to keep your blog or your site updated with your latest undertakings so that it’s always fresh.

              Other good way of using new media to gain wider exposure to your talents is by creating videos that are connected to your expertise and uploading them to You Tube. Just be mindful of the type of information you share so that it reflects who you are and what you do.

                Sooner or later, all of us will have to be well versed in the new technology and the sooner we all embrace it, the wider the range of opportunities we will have.

                Three things to avoid saying at work

                Friday, March 21st, 2008

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                There are certain expressions that when used at work, may not produce the best results.

                One example is when your boss asks you to do something that is not in your job description. It’s a bad idea to say: “it’s not my job” because it makes you look as though you are not a team player. If a deadline needs to be met, just do whatever needs to be done and after it’s done schedule a conversation with your boss to discuss areas of responsibility that may not be clear to you or others. The same goes when there is a problem and your boss asks you to resolve it.

                Answering: “it’s not my fault” won’t get you too many points. Better to help anyway you can and talk to your boss later about ways for your team to avoid repeating mistakes. At that time you can discuss what happened with a focus on what went wrong and how you can make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

                One third thing to avoid is to use the opportunity when your boss is giving you feedback about your work, to turn the tables around and tell your boss what you don’t like about him/her. I’ve seen this done too many times and it’s a bad idea. The mature position is to listen to the feedback without taking it personally and if there are things you wish to discuss with your boss, choose a different day to schedule an appointment. Then, prepare for that meeting so that you can provide facts and data about your concerns. 

                Been to a career fair lately?

                Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

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                  With the economy in trouble, many companies are downsizing and letting people go. This unfortunate situation was evident at this year’s New York Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) Career Conference. The conference was a success with over 700 attendees who run the gamut of career stages. Some were fresh out of college, others were unemployed and others were mid-career changers. 

                    HACE’s career fairs are very different from other fairs out there. The organization works with a selected group of sponsors who are committed to participate in several events a year and who actively recruit at these events. Goldman Sachs, Health First, Berkeley College, Caterpillar, Grainger, Wachovia and McGraw Hill where some of the exhibitors who spent time talking to interested candidates. 

                      Before they talked to recruiters, however, candidates had the opportunity of having their resume reviewed by a career coach in a special Career Help area set up like a cafe, with small tables and two chairs per table. 

                        I presented my Secrets of Successful Networking workshop which was attended by a large number of very interested participants who also attended other three very relevant workshops: Latinas in the Workplace, presented by Sandra Guzmán, Associate Editor of the New York Post; Get your Career in Gear, presented by Rhonda Otten, Financial Success Coach and Strategies for Mid Career Job Seekers, presented by Lori Meier, a Senior Employment Representative at Caterpillar.  

                          So, if you are in the market for a job, this is the kind of event worth attending. The networking opportunities are priceless and the chances to interview with high quality companies are very valuable. 

                            Before you attend your next career fair, make sure it offers: 

                            • A variety of employers, and not just government agencies
                            • Valuable educational workshops
                            • Professional support for you as a job seeker 

                            What the future will bring

                            Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

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                            Most of the time, if you pay attention to what is happening around you, you can tell where the jobs are going.

                            For example, you may have noticed that at Home Depot, Ikea and many supermarkets, there is now an automatic checkout option. Little by little, as other retailers pick up on the technology, human cashiers will be replaced and their jobs eliminated. So if this is your line of work, you may want to think about your next career move!

                            Or, you may have noticed that the Internet has changed the way in which the news are presented and discussed. If you work for a media company, you must know how to blog, how to produce videos for the Internet, how to capture the short attention span that goes hand in hand with this medium. If you don’t evolve, take courses, keep up to date, you will be replaced by someone who does.

                            The emphasis in the environment is unlikely to go away. All the new technologies connected with alternative energy along with all sorts of programs to reduce our footprint on the environment will offer great career potential for many years to come. Just as the new discoveries in genetic engineering.

                            My point is that, although we are navigating some difficult economic times, there are always wonderful career opportunities out there. Reading a combination of newspapers, scientific magazines, and general interest publications will help you figure out what way the market is going, and what adjustments you need to make to stay a step ahead of the competition.