Here’s What’s New on Our YouTube Channel!

Happy September, everybody! Last month, we uploaded a bunch of new videos to help you with your job search. Let’s see what they were.

Seminars

Remote Job Interviews

In these unprecedented times, more companies are opting for job interviews over the phone or by video conference. In this video, Career Coach Anne Nowak talks about best practices and things to avoid when interviewing remotely.

Intro to Cover Letters

Sure, you’ve got a killer resume – but a cover letter is what brings your job application over the edge. There’s just one problem: you don’t know where to start! Resume Coach Lynnette Lee is here to help with this recorded seminar.

Job Search Basics

We started a new playlist that will help you with the very basics of searching for work in 2020, including tutorials on using a computer and the Internet.

Creating an email address

Career Specialist Case Duckworth walks you through creating a new email address at the ever-popular Gmail.

Creating good passwords

Passwords are like keys … well, sort of. Career Specialist Richard Wright shows you the dos and don’ts of good password creation in this video.

Job Application Walk-throughs

Dollar Tree

Lynnette Lee walks you through an application at the popular convenience store.

Lowe’s

If you’re interested in a career in retail or home improvement, Career Specialist Cynthia Payton will walk you through an application at the big-box store Lowe’s.

Job Search Resources

The Career Center’s website has a ton of job search resources, which Resume Coach Lynnette Lee walks you through in this video.

Job Interview Scenarios

Tell me about your computer skills

Anne Nowak and Lynnette Lee discuss good – and bad! – answers to this interview question, which is only getting commoner.

Website Reviews

Power to Fly

Power to Fly is a woman-led company that specializes in helping women land technical roles, with events, career coaching, and job boards. Anne Nowak reviews the site’s pluses and minuses in this video.

Conclusion

That’s all the videos we posted in August. If you have an idea for a video, or would like to request one, drop us a line, give us a call, or come in and see us!

Written by Case Duckworth

Here’s What’s New on Our YouTube Channel!

July was busy for us here at the Career Center! We officially launched our YouTube channel and have a number of videos already there. We’re going to update you on the first Monday of each month as to the newest content, so here’s what we’ve uploaded so far.

Seminars

Mastering the Job Interview

In the first video of our Seminar Series, Resume Coach Lynnette Lee recreates her usually in-person seminar, Mastering the Job Interview. It covers important topics such as what to wear to an interview, how to comport yourself, and what to expect.

How to Spot and Avoid Job Search Scams

This video is a recreation of Anne Nowak’s seminar. In it, she talks about common employment scams that prey on desperate job-seekers, and shows you how to spot and avoid those scams.

Creating a winning resume

In this “winning” seminar, Lynnette Lee shows you how to write and format a resume that’ll be sure to get you noticed by hiring managers. This video covers how to format your resume, what words and phrases to use, and how to order and present your work history to get the best results.

Choosing a Resume Template

Did you know that the Career Center has a page chockablock with resume templates, free for you to refer to and use, at all stages of your career? Lynnette Lee walks you through which one to choose in this video, depending on the type of job you’re looking for and the type of work you’ve done in the past.

Recession-Proof Your Job and Career

Let’s face it—due to COVID-19, the economy is gearing up for a recession. Anne Nowak shows you how to keep your job in the uncertain times ahead in this seminar.

Job Interview Scenarios

Entering a Job Interview

In this role-play video between Lynnette Lee and Career Coach Anne Nowak, they show you what, and what not, to do when entering a job interview and introducing yourself.

How to Answer: “Tell Me About Yourself”

The dreaded open-ended interview opener, “Tell me about yourself,” has confounded job seekers since time immemorial. In this video, Lynnette Lee and Anne Nowak role-play different scenarios to show you how to answer this question like a pro.

How to Answer: “What is Your Greatest Weakness?”

This might be the most-lampooned of all interview questions, but it still gets asked by hiring managers and interviewers. Lynnette and Anne team up to show you what answers work and which ones don’t.

How to Answer: “What are Your Greatest Strengths?”

In this video, Anne Nowak and Lynnette Lee act out how to respond to one of the trickiest questions in an interviewer’s toolbox.

How to Answer: “Why do You Want to Work With Us?”

Here’s a hint: the answer isn’t “I like money.” In this video, Anne Nowak and Lynnette Lee walk you through the right and wrong ways of answering this evergreen question.

Application Walkthroughs

How to Apply for a Job with East Baton Rouge City-Parish Civil Service

Career Specialist Rick Wright shows you how to apply for a job with the City-Parish Civil Service in this walk-through video, so you can apply to your civil service dream job in no time.

How to Apply for a Job at Domino’s

In this video, Career Specialist Cynthia Payton walks you through applying for a job at the ever-popular pizza chain, Domino’s.

How to Apply for a Job with Dollar General

Career Specialist Case Duckworth guides you through the process of applying to work at one of the nation’s leading retail chains, Dollar General.

Work-from-Home Website Reviews

Rat Race Rebellion

Anne Nowak reviews on of the best work-from-home job board websites, Rat Race Rebellion. She’ll show you how to find a good job to do in your spare time or as a full career, as well as what to look out for and avoid.

Remote Planet

If you were laid off or found yourself with a lot of extra time on your hands during the pandemic, remote-work websites might help you find a way to make some extra cash. Anne Nowak walks you through one of them, Remote Planet, in this video.

Flexjobs

Flexjobs is a little different from other work-from-home websites: it requires a (paid) subscription. Anne Nowak discusses the benefits and drawbacks of that model in this review.

If you’d like to see more content like these videos, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you’d like to suggest a topic for a future video, please call us at 224-231-3733.

Written by Case Duckworth

The Hidden Dangers of Tables and Text Boxes in Resumes

Common Scene in the Career Center: A patron is trying to revise or update a resume. He/she tries to add or delete a line or section, or tries to change some of the formatting, but it does not seem to work right. The formatting and spacing get thrown off, and we are not able to fix it. We see this happen when a resume is formatted with tables or text boxes.

Where tables and text boxes come from

There are 3 reasons why your resume might contain tables/text boxes:

1) You are using a resume template that includes them. Some resume templates, in Microsoft Word and other sources, use tables and text boxes to lay out the structure of the resume. These formatting structures are usually invisible unless you specifically look for them.
2) You used a website to build your resume. Some websites that say “just enter your information and we will build your resume for you” use tables and/or text boxes to lay out the structure of the resume (assuming that you downloaded your resume from the website in Word format).
3) You put the table or text box in yourself.

Why you should avoid using tables and text boxes in your resume

Why do people like to use tables and text boxes? They look great because they give structure to the resume template. Tables are very useful for laying out a document in certain ways. Cells and rows and columns work well to create “sections” for different kinds of information. Text boxes can also work well for creating a “block” or a section. One advantage of text boxes is the freedom to move them around to different locations in the document. They can be useful for creating a header or a “left column” section.

Nevertheless, the Career Center still recommends against using tables and text boxes in your resume, for the following reasons:

1) They can “get in the way” when you want to revise your resume or change the layout.

  • Let’s you want to add an item to your Work Experience. You think “just add a new line and type information.” But if your resume uses tables, the layout is not the same as the rest of that section. Using Enter to create a new line in the same cell/row will not look the same. To be consistent you would need to create a new row and/or cell in the layout table. Unless you’re savvy with creating and editing tables, this may be hard for you to do.
  • Similarly, deleting something from your resume is difficult if the template uses tables or text boxes. Often, there is a bunch of empty space that will not go away. Why? Because now you have an empty cell and even empty cells take up space.
  • Tables and text boxes can get in the way when you try to change the margins.

2) Websites that import information from your resume have trouble “reading” information that is in tables or text boxes.

  • We have tested this with several different Automated Tracking Systems (ATS) such as Workday, Taleo, and Brassring. We found that they could “read” or import most but not all of the information in your resume. Some websites, such as job-posting giant Indeed, cannot import resumes with tables at all.
  • This is a big deal. You want websites to read correctly the information in your resume. For one thing, this saves you time and effort typing information on a job application. (Job application websites “read” your resume and use the information to fill in many of the boxes.)
  • More importantly, these websites might have trouble reading your work experience and qualifications. That means they might not recognize key words and information and not “flag” your resume so that a hiring manager will take a closer look and perhaps contact you for an interview. If the software can’t properly read your resume, due to tables and text boxes, then it may never get seen by human eyes.

How to Recognize Tables and Text Boxes in MS word templates

Usually they are invisible and can be hard to spot (as in the example below).

However, usually you can see a little square (with four arrows inside) in the top-left corner of a table and/or text box. If you cannot then click on an area inside the document – or move the cursor over the top-left area – and the little box should appear. Right-click on the little square. This makes a little menu appear.

Click on the Borders icon (which looks like a 2 x 2 square). And then choose All Borders. This will change the Borders setting for the table and/or text box so that the border(s) become visible.

And there is your table! Of course people usually want tables and text boxes to be invisible (no borders) so that they do not show up when printing the resume (and a person reading the resume does not see them). But in this case, you want to know that they’re there – so that you can choose not to use a template that has them.

What are other ways to format a resume?

  • If you are laying out your resume yourself, you can use tabs, justification settings, and indents in order to provide structure. These can all provide results that look similar or identical to what tables and text boxes accomplish. Although they can take a little more effort, the result is a document which you can edit as much as needed, which can be easily read by ATS.
  • Use a resume template that does not use tables or text boxes. This can be tricky because, as noted above, tables and text boxes are often invisible. One thing to look for is blocks of text next to each other in neat columns (as in the first example in this article). Or a section of text that seems to stand by itself and is not part of any paragraph.
  • Easiest method of all: Use one of our Career Center templates! The Career Center website has several different resume templates. They follow current “best practices” for resumes. They are well laid out and space efficient without being cramped. Click here for our resume templates.

Written by Richard Wright

The Resume: How to Cover an Unstable Work History

Several decades ago, it was common for people to work at one company for twenty or thirty years. In today’s gig economy, such long-term stability is rare. Yet most employers still see an unstable work history as a major red flag. It indicates to them that the applicant may be unfocused, uncommitted, or a problem employee of some sort.

If you have an unstable work history, how do you handle it on your resume, so that it doesn’t look like a red flag? The answer depends on your specific circumstances. Here are some ideas:

Problem: One large gap. There is a period of several years when you were not working.
Solution: Fill it in with something. Were you going back to school during that time? Doing volunteer work? Operating a small business or working freelance? Serving as a caretaker for your children or parents? All of these are activities that you can (and should!) put on a resume to explain away the gap. You want to show them that you were using your time productively, even if it was in a way that’s not directly relevant to your career field.
Example:
Tutor, Self-employed, Baton Rouge, LA                                                           August 2013 – May 2015
Tutored several middle- and high-school students in English grammar and literature.

Caretaker, Johnson Family, Lafayette, LA                                                              July 2008 – July 2013
Managed insurance relations and payments.
Coordinated medical care, including medications, therapy, and doctor appointments.

Problem: Several small gaps. There are a few gaps of six months or less in your work history.
Solution: Use only years of employment, not months. This strategy will cover any gaps which are less than a year in duration.
Example:
Sales Associate, Home Depot, Baton Rouge, LA                              December  2014 – February 2015
Rang up purchases and processed payments.
Assisted customers on sales floor.

Flooring Manager, Ace Hardware, Baton Rouge, LA                           November 2012 – January  2013
Supervised 3 sales associates.
Provided customers with expert knowledge of flooring products.

Problem: Multiple jobs at once. You have frequently held two or three jobs at a time, which means that there are a lot of jobs in your work history.
Solution: Delete some of the jobs. For each time period you need to cover, choose one job from your list – ideally, the most impressive job with the most relevant skills. Remove the others, and add the phrase “Additional work history available upon request” to the bottom of your work history.
Example:
Crew Leader, Burger King, Baton Rouge, LA                                     October 2015 – present
Supervise staff of 5; open store daily.

Cashier, Dollar Tree, Baton Rouge, LA                                                September 2014 – July 2016
Assisted customers and ran cash register.

Prep Cook, Chili’s, Baton Rouge, LA                                                   April 2012 – October 2015
Cooked meals to order in a fast-paced kitchen.

Additional work history available on request.

Problem: Staffing agency jobs. You’ve had several short-term jobs, with gaps between them, which you found though a staffing agency.
Solution: List the staffing agency as your employer. You can list more detailed information about the types of work you did and the companies you worked for in the bullet points of your job description. But by grouping it all together under the staffing agency, it looks much more stable.
Example:
Office Temp, Lofton Staffing, Baton Rouge, LA                                 June 2008 – March 2012
Worked a variety of short-term clerical jobs.
Locations included Neighbors Credit Union, Brown Dentistry, AllState Insurance, and GMP.
Performed data entry, filing, scanning, faxing, copying, and database management.

Problem: Short-term jobs. There are jobs in your work history which lasted less than a year.
Solution: Delete some of the jobs, and use only years of employment, not months. Ask yourself whether it’s helping you to include these short-term jobs. If you can delete them without removing crucial experience, and without leaving large/numerous gaps, then do so. If not, see if you can group them together (see next Solution).
Example:
LPN, Our Lady of the Lake, Baton Rouge, LA                                      October 2016 – present
Manage ward of 12 cardiac care patients.

Home Health Nurse, Senior Care Inc., Baton Rouge, LA                    January 2016 – April 2016
Provided sole medical care for elderly invalid.

LPN, Baton Rouge General, Baton Rouge, LA                                     August 2013 – July 2015
Performed triage and assisted doctors in busy ER.

Problem: Short-Term Contracts/Projects. This is especially common in such fields as construction, where you move from job to job whenever projects are completed. If you only have one or two positions like this on your resume, simply add “Contract” or “Seasonal” to your job title. But if you have several such positions, you’ll need a new approach.
Solution: Group similar jobs together under one title. Give this entry a title which covers the general type of work you did, then get into the specifics in the job description below that.
Example:
Carpenter/Painter, Baton Rouge, LA                                                              2013 – present
Performed industrial carpentry painting work for several local construction projects.
Worked with Turner Industries, CB&I, Brock Construction, and Broh Brothers.

Problem: None of the previous solutions worked. If you tried the tricks above, but are still not able to put together a resume that will impress hiring managers and hide your unstable work history, you may need to completely re-think the structure of your resume.
Solution: Use a functional resume. This strategy emphasizes your skills and qualifications while downplaying your chronological work history. The largest downside of the functional resume is that it can be very difficult to write. The good news is, the Career Center can help!
Example: We have two templates for functional resumes, as well as a previous blogpost about how to use a functional resume to cover an unstable work history.

If you would like some help with your resume, please visit the Career Center of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library at any time during our opening hours for free expert assistance.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Tech Talk: Why You Need Your Resume in MS Word (and how to convert it from PDF)

Patron: I need to update my resume. It’s in PDF format. How do I make changes?
Staff: I’m sorry but you can’t.

A conversation like this happens quite often in the Career Center. Many of our clients don’t realize that the choice of format in which they save their resume can affect their ability to make changes to the resume. Many computers – including the library’s computers – do not have the software necessary to edit PDF files. So, why do so many people use PDFs? And if your resume is PDF only, what can you do about it?

advantages and disadvantages of pdfs

One of the great advantages of having a PDF version of your resume is that it cannot be altered by another person or a computer program. Therefore, it can be a good idea to submit your resume as a PDF in an email or an online application, so that it will arrive with all of your formatting intact.

However, this feature of PDFs is a double-edged sword. No one else can make changes to your document – but neither can you. If you want to add a new position, or change your email address, or fix a typo, you will be out of luck with a PDF.

Therefore, we strongly urge you to save your resume (and cover letter, references, etc.) in an editable format such as Microsoft Word. You may also save each document as a PDF for online submission if you’d like,* but you need a Microsoft Word copy so you can make changes.

*Recently we learned websites that use ATS (Automated Tracking System) do not read PDFs very well. Even if a website allows you to upload your resume in PDF format, it is better to submit it in a Microsoft Word format such as DOC or DOCX.

My resume is pdf only. how do i fix that?

If it is not a scan, try this:

  • Convert it using Word. Word 2013 and 2016 are able to open a PDF and convert it to Word format. This is the most effective and hassle-free option. However, it will not work with a scan. It only works with documents that were created in MS Word but saved as PDFs.
  • Use Google Drive to convert it. Obviously, this one only works if you have a Google account. Upload the PDF to your Drive and open the file as a Google Doc. Then, in the menu bar, go to File -> Download as -> Microsoft Word (docx).  Again, this technique does not work with scans.
  • Use PDFtoWordThis website converts PDFs to Word documents and produced good results when we tested it. However, it will not work with a scan.

If it is a scan, try this:

  • Run it through Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR recognizes letters and words in your scanned file and turns them into text. Some websites can run an uploaded file through OCR and then convert it into a text file in MS Word. We had good results doing this through OnlineOCR, DocsZone, and PDFtoWordConverter. However, please be advised that quality is not guaranteed – sometimes, formatting is lost during the conversion process, particularly if your resume is highly formatted.
  • If all else fails, re-type it from scratch in MS Word. It takes time, but it will be worth it.

See Wikihow for more detailed instructions on converting PDFs to Word.

I don’t have microsoft office. what do i do?

You are welcome to use the library for this purpose; all of our branches have MS Word on our computers. Alternately, you can use a free application such as Libre Office, which is very similar to MS Office and compatible with Macs and Linux.

If you would like in-person help with writing or formatting your resume, come to the Career Center at the Goodwood Library where trained staff can assist you.

Written by Rick Wright

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 3

This is the third post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

3rd deadly sin: Resume Blunders

Regardless of what job you are looking for, you now need a resume. No big deal you think, there are plenty of templates available on the internet and if those don’t work out I’ll hire a resume writer. Let’s see what could go wrong:

1st blunderone resume fits all. No, it usually doesn’t. Ideally you want to adjust your resume to each job you are applying for. Most times, it just needs little tweaks and not major rewrites.  If you are applying through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), each resume needs to contain as many of the keywords in the job description as possible to make it through the ATS. Those keywords will differ from job to job.

2nd blunder – an unfocused resume. You have done a lot of good work in your life and you want every potential employer to see all you can do. That’s understandable, but you don’t want to drown the reader in irrelevant information. Be strategic about what you include in your resume. You want to stress those parts of your experience that are most relevant to the job you are applying for and minimize the experience that is not relevant. You also don’t want to go back too far in time. Normally going back about 15 years is customary. Resume space is at a premium; use it wisely. The reader will only spend a few seconds skimming it. Those few seconds need to be enough to convey that you have what they are looking for.

3rd blunder – no accomplishments. Everybody has accomplishments! Many job searchers don’t recognize their accomplishments and see it as “well, that’s just part of my job”. Don’t sell yourself short! Talk to colleagues and friends (or resume writers and career coaches) and let them help you identify what you do well. Then include those accomplishments in your resume.

4th blunder – not proofreading your resume. You have created a top notch resume, focused and filled with relevant accomplishments and keywords. You have read it a thousand times, so it must be okay, right? Too often it’s not. After working on a document for a while, you are not able to recognize the little typos and mistakes. Give your resume to a friend to proofread!!! Grammatical mistakes and typos will usually get you screened out right away. Recruiters will interpret it as carelessness.

5th blunder – not vetting a professional resume writer. Resume writing is hard, so you decide to hire a professional resume writer. There are a lot of excellent resume writers out there. There are even more poor ones! We have seen our share of poorly written resumes that job seekers have paid good money for! Anybody can call themselves a resume writer, so do your research. As with most things, word of mouth is best. Ask friends if they have been successful with a resume written by a specific resume writer. Also, check the resume-writer’s credentials. There are a number of certifications that resume writers can attain. Some of the best are:

  • MRW – Master Resume Writer: only very experienced resume writers get this credential.
  • ACRW – Academy Certified Resume Writer: this credential is given after a comprehensive certification class, exam and document submission for review.
  • CPRW – Certified Professional Resume Writer: resume writers have to pass a test and submit a resume for review.

Resume writing includes substantial communication between the writer and the job seeker. If your resume writer does not ask you many questions, or only asks you to complete a standard written form and then doesn’t talk to you again, beware.

You can learn more details about resumes in our previous blog posts on the topic. If you need assistance in creating a resume, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733, and we can help (we actually have two Certified Professional Resume Writers on staff). More information on resumes and a number of templates can be found here.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

Job Search Tips for Ex-Offenders, Part 1: The Resume and Application

The Career Center recently presented a pair of job search seminars at a local correctional facility, focusing on the resume and the job interview for ex-offenders. Here are some of the greatest takeaways from those seminars.

Should I include my criminal record on my resume?

  • You do not have to mention your incarceration at all on your resume. But be prepared to discuss it in the interview. The difference is, the interview will give you a chance to explain your record and ease the hiring manager’s worries. The resume will not.
  • If you don’t mention your incarceration on your resume, there will be a gap in your work history. You may need a functional resume to cover that gap.
  • If you gained valuable skills, education, or work experience in prison, you probably should put it on your resume. You may even be able to disguise it, so that it’s not obvious that you were incarcerated.
  • Whether or not you include your incarceration, make sure that your resume highlights the skills you have  which are most relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.

how can I disguise my incarceration on my resume?

  • Use the name of the state or parish, not the name of the prison, when listing work experience.
    Example: Landscaper, State of Louisiana, 2007 – present
  • Use the name of the contract company you worked for while incarcerated.
    Example: Cook, ACI Food Services, 2012 – present
  • Make it look like you work directly for the prison.
    Example: Program Clerk, Angola Prison, 2013 – 2017
  • For educational programs, use the name of the organization that provided your training.
    Example: GED, Adult Literacy Advocates, 2016

should I include my criminal record on the application?

  • Only mention your incarceration if they specifically ask about it. Since the passing of “Ban the Box” laws, a lot of applications no longer ask if you have a criminal record. If they don’t ask, don’t tell. The best time for you to discuss your criminal record is in the interview.
  • If they do ask about your criminal record, you must answer honestly. But don’t just say, “Yes.” Take the opportunity to explain your record. Don’t appear hostile, negative, or unrepentant. Don’t blame other people. Instead, take responsibility for your mistakes, and emphasize your path to rehabilitation.

helpful resources

  • 70millionjobs.com, a job search website devoted entirely to companies willing to hire people with criminal records.
  • Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, which has an ex-offender re-entry program offering free training and employment services
  • The Capital Area Re-Entry Coalition
  • Any book by author Ronald Krannich, including The Ex-Offender’s Re-Entry Assistance Directory, The Ex-Offender’s Quick Job Hunting Guide, Best Resumes and Letters for Ex-Offenders, and The Ex-Offender’s Job Interview Guide. All of these books may be checked out from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.
  • The Career Center (inside the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Boulevard) can offer personalized assistance with job search strategies, online applications, resumes, and interviews.

Written by Lynnette Lee

The Resume: Special Rules for Students and New Graduates

For most jobseekers, writing a resume is largely a matter of describing their previous work experience. This can be frustrating for young people, who often don’t have much real-world experience. Thus, a young person or new graduate may want to take a slightly different approach to resume-building. Here are some helpful tips.

education

For someone in or fresh out of school, your education is the most valuable thing you have to offer. Therefore, you want to put it near the top of your resume – above work experience – and go into fairly extensive detail. Include the name of your degree and school, your major and minor, your date of graduation, and your GPA (if it’s 3.0 or better). Additionally, you may wish to include information about your most relevant courses taken, internships completed, academic awards received, and extracurricular activities participated in. You may include those things as part of the Education section, or you may create individual sections for each.

work experience

As a fresh grad, you won’t have much work experience. But you may have more than you think. Brainstorm. If you had a part-time job in high school or college as a cashier, babysitter, tutor, housecleaner, or lawnmower, you can include that. If you had an internship or externship, you can include that. If you volunteered with an organization for several months, you can include that – list it as you would a normal job, but include “Volunteer” as part of your job title. For each job you list, focus on your skills and accomplishments at that job which are most relevant to the kinds of jobs you’re applying for.

the kitchen sink

If you don’t have much work experience, you can flesh out your resume by including the other things you do have. Make a list of everything you’ve done, then organize it into categories. Popular categories include: Academic Awards, Athletic Honors, Extracurricular Activities, Leadership Experience, Volunteer Work, Clubs, Computer Skills, Office Skills, Languages Spoken, and Achievements.

additional resources

The Career Center has three templates specifically designed for new graduates: here, here, and here. You may also check out these books from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library for ideas: Best Resumes for College Student and New Grads, Creating Your High School Resume, and Resume 101. Alternately, if you would like personalized help in putting together your resume, please visit the Career Center inside the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA.

Written by Lynnette Lee

The Resume: Special Rules for Senior Citizens

When you write a resume, there are several criteria to keep in mind for how you present yourself. You of course want to focus on highlighting your best accomplishments and most relevant skills. You want to keep your resume relatively short and easy to read. You also want to make sure that your resume is visually appealing, clearly formatted, and free of typos. But there’s one more thing you might be judged on of which you may not be aware: your age.  Skilled employees with decades of experience may be perceived as too old for the job. Here are some tips to avoid the perils of age discrimination.

Education

At this point in your career, your work experience is usually more valuable than your education. Therefore, unless you graduated recently, your education should go to the bottom of your resume. Likewise, unless your degree is fairly new, you should give only a minimum of information about it – name of degree, name of school, city and state, and major (if applicable). Do not include dates of graduation if it’s been more than 10 years. You do not want to open yourself up to age discrimination.

Work Experience

It can be unwise, if you’re a seasoned employee, to provide your entire work history on a resume. Not only would doing so make your resume extremely long, but it would also advertise the fact that you’re a senior citizen – and open you up to age discrimination. Instead, you will usually want to give only the past 10-15 years of work history. That’s usually plenty to establish your skills and credentials. Also, be careful not to say anything like, “35 years of experience as an RN.” Instead, say, “15+ years of experience as an RN.”

Exceptions

Sometimes, there is a compelling reason for a jobseeker to want to include experience which is more than 20 years old. Perhaps you have a large gap in your recent work history and need to go back farther to establish your experience. Perhaps you’re trying to return to a field that you used to work in 25 years ago. Please be aware of the age discrimination issue, and weigh carefully whether including older information will help you more than it hurts you. If you decide to include older experience, you may wish to use a functional resume template such as this or this, which draws attention away from dates. Here are two articles with more detailed information on how to write a functional resume.

additional Resources

For more information on the special rules for jobseeking as a senior citizen, you may wish to check out Getting the Job You Want After 50 for Dummies or 50 Steps for 50 Year Old Job Seekers from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. Alternately, if you would like personalized help in putting together your resume, please visit the Career Center inside the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA.

Written by Lynnette Lee

 

 

 

The Hybrid Resume Format

One of the most crucial parts of writing an effective resume is choosing the right format. We usually distinguish between chronological, functional, and hybrid formats, with each having distinct pros and cons. To that end, we will be discussing different resume formats and which ones work for which job seekers. Today, we’ll look at the hybrid resume format.

WHAT IS IT?

The hybrid resume template is, as it sounds, a hybrid of the other two types of resumes we previously discussed: chronological and functional. The chronological resume is a straightforward listing of chronological work history: where you worked and when. The functional resume, also discussed here, takes the opposite approach: it focuses on your skills and accomplishments, while de-emphasizing chronological work history.

The hybrid resume aims to give you the best of both worlds. It includes detailed information on your chronological work experience, but also has specialized sections which allow you to highlight your unique competencies, accomplishments, and personal branding statements. Check out our examples: basic professional and advanced professional.

THE ADVANTAGES

The hybrid resume’s main advantage is that it avoids some of the disadvantages of the other resume formats. A chronological template may not work for you if you’ve had several different types of jobs, because it may look scattered and unfocused. By giving you a place to include a branding statement and highlight your most relevant skills, the hybrid resume helps you bring a uniting thread to your resume, focusing the hiring manager’s mind on the best parts of your experience.

Likewise, a functional template can be risky because the unusual format can be off-putting to hiring managers. The hybrid resume allows you to use a more orthodox format which showcases your stable work history, while still giving you a place to emphasize your best skills and achievements.

Due to its flexibility, the hybrid resume can work well for most jobseekers. It is also the preferred format for mid-to-upper-level professionals such as managers and executives.

THE DISADVANTAGES

Although the hybrid resume works well for a large number of people, it is not the best choice for everyone. The functional format may work better for someone with a nontraditional work history (large gap, no relevant experience, etc.) or someone with a single-track career doing the same exact job at several different companies. Our best advice is to read about all three types, then choose the one which you believe would paint your experience in the best light.

COMPONENTS OF A HYBRID RESUME

Contact information: Your name, physical address (optional), phone number with area code, and email address. You may also include your LinkedIn URL and/or website URL.

Personalized Sections: This area has the flexibility to let you get creative. You may choose to start with a tagline, profile statement, or professional summary — some sort of brief statement to introduce who you are and what you have to offer. You may also have a section that lets you emphasize the best things you have to offer, in an attention-grabbing list at the top of your resume. You might call that section Key Skills, Achievements, Core Competencies, or Accomplishments. Depending on your field and career level, it may also be appropriate to include a list of Professional Memberships. Look at our two examples for inspiration, and if you’re still not sure what to include, check for examples of hybrid resumes online and in resume books.

Work History: Start with the most recent job and work your way back. Include the name of each company, city and state of the company’s location, your job title there, your dates of employment, and a job description. There are two different ways of handling the job description, as shown in our two different examples.

Our basic professional example lists each job duty as a separate bullet point. Your bullet points should start with strong action verbs and give a good general idea of what you did on the job. Make sure to highlight: awards or promotions, experience training or supervising others, using specialized software or equipment, leading workshops or presentations, and any other special achievements on the job.

Our advanced professional example has a different approach. For many management-level professionals, including the details of every job duty would be overwhelming. Instead, this resume starts each job description with a brief paragraph summarizing the job duties. The bullet points are reserved for specific accomplishments.

Education: This would be the place to include academic degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.), vocational certifications (teaching license, LPN, etc.), and industry credentials (CPA, TWIC, OSHA, etc.). Remember to include the name and type of diploma earned, the name of the school, and the city and state. Depending on your field and career level, it may also be appropriate to include a subsection called Continuing Education or Professional Development, in which you’ll list the ongoing educational courses you have taken relevant to your field. Important note: do not include graduation dates for anything which is more than 15 years old. Doing so could make your degree look outdated and open you up to age discrimination.

References: Your references should not be part of your resume. References should be on a separate document, one which you only provide when it is asked for. You may include a line on your resume that says “References available upon request.”

In addition to these tips, you can come by the Career Center in person anytime during business hours for one-on-one help with your resume.

Written by Lynnette Lee.