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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009


John Masci -

Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 In the first section it was discussed how in recent times the volume of applicants for each open position has increased exponentially for several reasons. It’s easier than ever to submit résumés online, there’s record numbers of students graduating college and competing for the same jobs, and with unbelievably high unemployment rates there’s more people hungry for jobs making this one of the most competitive markets in US history. When figuring out how to apply for jobs, the best trick is to put yourself in the shoes of whoever is looking at the résumés. If you’re glancing at a stack of 300 résumés for just a single job opening, how are you going to narrow that down? Hiring people is expensive, that’s the bottom line. Once a résumé is selected to go through the next screening process, every un-hired applicant that does move closer to being hired is wasted money and energy. Résumé screeners are looking for the closest matches that will be most likely to fit the position best. There’s been a lot of discussion in the past several years about ‘personal branding’, basically the idea of turning yourself into a refined and specific employee with narrow focus of qualities and skill sets. It’s been hailed as one of the most successful ways to advance yourself, make it so your name is synonymous with your qualities. Having a broad and general set of qualities means the employer will be faced with the burden of refining you and sculpting you to fill your job position. In an economy like the one the US is dealing with now, this is a cost that most companies cannot afford. With personal branding you’re telling the employer ‘I’m your guy, I can do exactly what you need’. There have been countless books written on the topic, people who specialize helping you refine your brand, and high cost seminars that claim the ability to lock you into your ideal brand image. That’s all beyond the point of this program because at this point in your career it’s not the number one focus and certainly not the focus of this program. The focus here is to quickly and efficiently get you into the job, but knowing the importance of this lets you accomplish something even better – leverage the tools available to us to create the perception that your ‘brand’ is whatever the employer is looking for. This is basically the quick and dirty way to brand yourself in a few days so that when that recruiter is looking through that stack of résumés yours pops out, and their jaw drops when they realize that they’ve found someone unlike anyone else in that stack.


John Masci -

Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 So we have two key things to focus on here, creating a brand quickly based on what job we want and the projecting that brand through some basic marketing practices. Utilizing online tools and understanding how recruiters screen applicants, we can leverage the hiring process greatly into our favor through these two key processes. Branding: Creating a perceived image for employers. We want to brand ourselves as being experts in one field or a combination of fields that will make us an asset to the employer for the job we want. Rather than let the employer determine if you fit the position, you'll be telling them that you're the perfect candidate. Marketing: The practice of leveraging various mediums to advertise our branding. Accomplished sing Internet tools, tailored rÊsumÊ, and other external means to put our brand 'out there'. Now that you understand that our goal is fine tune a broad set of skills that portrays you as a generalist (the skills dictated by your degree) into portraying you as a specialist (whatever the job is looking for) we can go ahead and quickly accomplish those goals.


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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Section 1

Positives and Negatives The point of this program and my personal experience is that people who have something holding them back from a high paying job are only being held back because they aren't wowing the employers with anything incredible that’s seemingly more important than any negative trait they notice. We have two types of branding, your internal brand (the skills you know you have and what makes you worth of a high salary) and the external brand (what the employers use to make their judgments about you when making their decision). Our goal is downplay the negatives that might steer an employer away from us and highlight the positives with some indicators of credibility that we can create ourselves - which draw attention from our weaknesses to our positives. Look at the negatives and positives from my own experience: Negatives: − Graduated from small unknown school with small program − Less than desirable GPA − Shaky track record from transcripts − Lack of involvement in on campus activities and major related organizations Positives: − Excellent communication skills − Adaptive learner − Vast knowledge of field of study, despite grades and transcript Down play the negatives by emphasizing the positives. The negatives are obviously concrete examples and the positives are subjective, subjective statements are usually discredited quickly because of their abuse on résumés, the goal is turn subjective statements into credibility indicators through concrete examples. A real life example of this in another context would be taking a look at a cereal box, ''$20 a box' on a breakfast cereal is a concrete statement that would pretty much guarantee nobody buys your cereal, the price is ridiculously inflated above the average cost of cereal. Adding something like 'Great Tasting!' is a subjective statement which doesn't do much to convince a consumer that it's worth the ridiculous price. '#1 Best Selling Cereal in America! Over 100 Million boxes sold! Proven to fight illness and promote good health by National Institution of American Physicians' contains enough concrete positive fact to


John Masci -

Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 encourage a consumer to think it's worth the ridiculous price. You can follow a similar practice to overcome any glaring negative traits that frighten off employers by simply using concrete examples to prove your qualifications. One tactic that’s never even considered by most applicants is creating your own concrete examples where you may be lacking. We’ll explore how to achieve this effectively and more importantly, quickly.


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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Section 2

Creating the Brand FACT: 83% of recruiters used internet search engines to research candidates in 2007 – nearly HALF (43%) eliminated candidates based on those results – ExecuNet.com1 It’s important to look at how we’re being evaluated by employers, what facts are being used to make their judgment? You know they’re looking at your cover letter, your résumé, and in the last couple years there’s been a massive push to using the internet as a sneaky trick to find out more about candidates. It’s easy to control your résumé and cover letter, because you actually create that yourself – but what if you had the ability to control what they found on the web as well? I had originally came up with the idea jokingly after reading an article about how employers were eliminating candidates based on Facebook and MySpace pages. I joked with my friends, “What if I just create a new MySpace page, make it public and change around everything. I want my interests to include all charity work and all my photos will be me saving puppies from burning buildings and pulling babies out of floods….who wouldn’t hire that guy??” What started as a joke, actually turned into an amazingly successful approach to fully control all the content that employers found out about me. Being able to populate the web quickly and efficiently with content that supported my claims allowed me to dramatically make up for some of the areas that I knew I was lacking. One of the biggest reasons this is important now is because as the economy makes employers be more exclusive about who they hire, they focus on employees that are multi-faceted and able to adapt to new technologies and tools. Also one of the biggest drawbacks to hiring college graduates is their lack of experience with the industry, as well as an underlying doubt that younger candidates will be able to immediately jump into the level of professionalism required by the workplace. By using the web to project the fact that you are capable of working with new things, you have a strong grasp of the industry, and you are a professional person, you have a huge advantage over others. One of the biggest problems I noticed during my first round of job applications was that I knew I met the criteria these employers were looking for, but how did I demonstrate it? You can’t always show these skills on a résumé, so demonstrating them through a medium like the 1


John Masci -

Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 web is powerful. If an employer is looking at two résumés and only wants to do one interview, they will most likely end up ‘Googling’ the names out of curiosity. If one candidate has a couple examples that impress them, it’s easy to just jump on board with them and not waste time with the other who may or may not have the same skills. It’s always better to go above and beyond than bank on the fact that the employer will give you the benefit of the doubt. Search engines will return the results based on the popularity of the websites relevant to their search terms. So if they search your name, they'll be returned with links from the biggest sites, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc usually before they find a small personal website. We can leverage this to our advantage. The goal is to populate the big name websites with as much positive content about you as possible. The easiest targets for our purpose are , ,, and Ted Demopoulos, author of Effective Internet Presence2, makes a very good point about establishing your brand online. The goal is for anyone searching for you to be greeted with many positive results, this becomes increasingly difficult for those with common names. The easiest solution is to do the same thing people such as George W. Bush, Michael J. Fox, and Andrew Dice Clay have done. Simply use a variation of your name that is less common on the web, and this is your 'professional alias'. Try doing web searches on variations until you've isolated a name which is unique, use this on your résumé heading, your email address, and as your signature during communications with anything involving your professional life. Why might this be important? If an employer searches your name and finds out about your four counts of drunk and disorderly conduct or the time you got busted streaking, you’re dead in the water. Even worse might be if they searched your name and you may be innocent, but someone else with the same name has flooded the web with their negative content. The fact that another 20 year old John D was arrested as part of a college drug ring could even hurt your chances. Don’t forget that when searching through large applicant stacks an HR member isn’t going to look too deep to double check that it isn’t actually you. I’m a big Seinfeld fan and any fellow fans will remember Elaine dating a totally normal guy, the only thing abnormal was that he shared the name of notorious serial killer Joel Rifkin. Even though he was a normal guy, 2


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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 the stigma behind his name was enough to make it impossible for anyone to get to know who he really was, they were too caught up in the abnormality of his name. You never want to be put in a position where you have to defend yourself against content online that doesn’t involve you – or even worse, have your résumé pushed aside because a lazy HR rep didn’t realize that the DUI belongs to someone else with the same name. So create a professional alias if this is an issue.

“He’s not the murderer…..” Assuming you have a clean slate when you search our alias, we can start constructing a few easy online web presence elements that will just create positive buzz when your name is searched. The following are quick and simple: LinkedIn – A social networking site dedicated to business professionals. Create a profile, this is best saved as the last step in the process after we finish tweaking our résumé. – Amazon allows you to write reviews on virtually any book, movie, or product in existence. Create a profile using your professional name and submit reviews on categories relevant to your field of study. This is easier than one would think, simply providing positive or negative feedback on any of your text books is enough. A few clearly worded lines highlighting your experiences with a text book will further support your expertise in a field. Amazon lets you


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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 create 'List Manias' as well, creating a 'List Mania' on 'Accounting Books More Important than Your Textbooks' or 'Every College English Major MUST Read These Books' or 'How to REALLY Learn Computer Science' would all be good examples. Create these lists either using personal experience, highly rated books on a certain subject, or simply ask a professor what they recommend. This shouldn't take more than 15 minutes and further develops your profile of being a specialist in any topic. Be sure your user name and profile reflect you professional alias/name so that it will be a result in a search for your name. Amazon is ranked 41 in total web popularity from Alexa ratings, this is guaranteed to be a top result. When we get down to creating a quick and dirty, fully automated blog, you’ll see that you can use links to this content on those pages too. – EzineArticles allows 'experts' to upload articles of at least 200 words to share with the internet. Again, a highly ranked website guaranteed to give you a first page search result. While again, it may seem daunting to write an expert article, it's really as simple as sharing something you've already written. Have you received a high grade or recognition for a recent essay or paper? Simply upload it to EzineArticles under an account created in your name. Again, this will provide web searchers with a link to your 'expert profile' and a list of submitted documents. Remember, this is going to be a reflection of your writing skills, if you're highlighting your writing and communication skills, this is an excellent resource, but stay away if your submissions are not particularly strong. – WordPress is a quick start for generating a blog online. Generating a blog is one of the most valuable web presences you can create because it instantly allows you to be an 'industry insider' on the topic of choice. WordPress offers a variety of professional templates to give your blog a great appearance. Many personal branding experts suggest creating and maintaining a blog – the only problem is that if you have a blog with one or two posts and no continual updates, you've failed at creating a perceived image of being a competent industry expert. Again, we have a shortcut here where we can create months of content and simulate activity in just a few minutes.


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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Blogs have always been somewhat mysterious; they’re careers for some and hobbies for other. They cover everything from day to day life, to a unique perspective on an industry. One secret that most bloggers don’t want you to know is that you can post date and predate entries. So if you’re attempting to look like you’re actively contributing to something, you can generate months worth of posts in a couple minutes and have them automatically post by themselves. Sort of the ultimate “set it and forget it” trick to put yourself on the same page as many who work daily at keeping up with the news and content on their blog. This is one of the few outlets you have to explore that can be entered on a résumé to showcase skills that are otherwise difficult to demonstrate. will host the blog for free and let you automatically update for as many posts as you want. We can use this to your advantage by generating a dozen or so blog posts which will span a 4 months period, more than enough time for your job search and also to give the appearance of a role of an active industry expert for a considerable period of time. How is this accomplished? Create a title for a blog that represents your image, 'Accounting: Adding Things Up From the Eyes of an Undergrad', 'Tough Pill to Swallow: News for Nursing Majors', '01 + 01 = 10: Computer Science's Unconventional Applications'. Not feeling creative? Use an idiom dictionary to come up with a catchy title: Once you have a title, you go to and generate your blog using our professional alias/name. Now for the content, use Google's advanced news search tool to find articles based on your topic from various time periods and various media sources. The search tool can be found here: . Open up a text document in a program like Microsoft Word and pick about a dozen articles, using search terms like 'accounting college', 'computer science graduate', 'math salary', etc will help you find articles related to the topic your using to support your brand. With a dozen articles selected, quickly skim the article and write a 1-2 sentence summary and follow it up with a simple thought provoking question.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Here's an example a post: SFU science graduate a rising TV star: “Her PhD research focused on using computer science techniques to predict where in a bacterial cell a protein might be located — information that is critical to developing new drugs and vaccines. “ Jennifer Gardy, the Bay Area graduate, is helping to shed CS majors' stereotypical image of the computer programmer nerd by bringing the applications of computer science not only to the mainstream with her TV program, but also by demonstrating its fundamental principles have applications in other science related fields such as biochemistry. Will the knowledge that computer science can aid other fields cause a surge in demand for CS majors? This took under a minute to compose, yet helps us generate thought provoking posts sure to amaze any employer who Google searches our name and finds this blog. The blog is one of the easiest products to produce, yet accomplishes so many goals. Before moving on, take a look at the benefits of creating this simple self-promotion device:

1) This was as easy as opening up an email address, but it highlights highly technical skills which are lusted after in the modern workplace as older employees find it harder and harder to keep up with new technology 2) Highlights writing skills 3) Creates the perceived image that we're diligently spending time on something related to our field of expertise 4) Actively promotes the mentality that we're thought provoking and intelligent individuals through concrete evidence. It's difficult to say 'I'm smart' on a résumé when your GPA may not reflect the same notion. This is concrete evidence that you're a competent person able to be committed to a project (despite the fact that we spend less than 15 minutes to generate 12 weeks of 'commitment') 5) Differentiates us from all other competition. Ask your friends how many of them run a website constantly updated with cutting edge industry articles? You've already put

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 yourself light years ahead of the competition. 6) Shows application of concepts. Many students with a 4.0 are great at repeating information to get A's on exams, if they can't put their talent into practice, they'll fail as employees. This is concrete evidence that you can implement your skills into something tangible.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Section 3

The Résumé: Beef it Up The Boston Globe article 'How To Sell Yourself in an Interview' makes the claim that your résumé can't convey who you are and make a first impression, this is a traditional idea about résumés and couldn't be further from the truth. The article goes on to say: “A résumé is really just a laundry list. It tells an interviewer where you went to college, what jobs you've had, and when, and what activities and hobbies you enjoy in your spare time. What it cannot do is communicate who you are and what you know that might be of value to an employer. That's your job in an interview...” It's going to be hard to convey anything in an interview if an employer immediately puts your résumé in a recycling bin. Your goal will be the opposite of this common way of thinking, use your résumé to convey exactly who you are and why you're the perfect candidate for the job. The truth is that your résumé IS your first impression, creating the perfect first impression has little to do with clothing choices or mannerisms, it has to do with how we present ourselves on our résumé. The goal is to create a lasting first impression on whomever has the chance to first glance at our résumé. Content of the résumé is important, but human resources recruiters have claimed that you have 15-20 seconds to make a first impression, and others claim that you have only 3-5 seconds to create a first impression. Presentation is our number one priority to ensure they actually read the résumé, and our number two priority is to let them read what they want to read once they're curious about us as a candidate. A friend of mine who's an entrepreneur recently shared a story about his struggles with advertising. He spent an afternoon handing out leaflets to a college campus with a 0% success rate, the only result of hours of handouts was mass littering of the campus. He changed tactics and put on a sandwich board and walked around, rather than force his audience full of information, he tried to pique their interest with something unusual and then offered more information the next day with a booth in a high traffic area. It's obvious that his audience was used to people shoving merchandise down their throats and they had reached a point where it

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John Masci -

Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 no longer stimulated any interest at all. I found the most successful practice for getting the attention of recruiters and HR staff was similar. Utilize a creative and concise résumé, and offer them all the information they would need through an external source, a website. A creative résumé and URL to more information captures the interest of anyone reading and an added bonus is the ability to track those who are viewing your website.

Here's how you do it. The first step is to construct your résumé. The formula for résumé construction that I've found to be the most successful is as follows:

Keeping it simple, you include three basic categories, Education, Experience, Certifications/Proficiencies and optionally personal interests if more content is needed.

1) Education should include your graduation date, your school, field of study (majors, minors, concentrations), and GPA if greater than 3.0. 2) Past 2-3 pieces of work experience, with the most relevant at the top. If you're short on work experience, be sure to include freelance work you've done. Have you helped with friends with taxes? Have you fixed someone’s computer? Sold artwork at a fair or provided it to the community? Adding an entry as 'Freelance Work' with a couple key points which relevant to the jobs you're applying for fits the bill perfectly. 3) Certifications and Proficiencies are essential to highlight skills that haven't been demonstrated through work experience. Do you have a skill that can be highlighted through an industry certification? One of the jobs I was applying for required a certain set of skills, I had taken a course on this in college but wanted to further emphasize my proficiency and differentiate myself from the rest of the applicants. A quick Google search revealed a test I could take to prove my capabilities, $150 and 2 hours later, I was certified and could share this concrete credibility indicator. You would be surprised at the available certifications for all industries, if you have the skill set, why not take a few hours to get recognized officially? This makes a dramatic difference to an employer, again, this allows us to transform subjective statements into concrete statements. I went

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 from stating 'proficient in network technologies' to saying 'Industry recognized through XYZ Certification'.

If certifications aren't available or are too costly/difficult look for trade organizations you can join or local meetings you can attend. Another soft skill I wanted to emphasize was my experience I had from being a hobbyist. Of course it's difficult to simply say 'hobbyist' and get much credit, I did a quick Google search for local user groups and found out about a user group who met at MIT. Anyone was invited to attend, it was completely free, and they would have industry experts lecturing. Joining up with a group like this provides excellent networking opportunities in addition to our intended purposes. Just using it for a résumé booster had incredible potential as well. I was able to change my résumé as follows:

Previous statement: Active hobbyist with knowledge of high-tech industry Updated statement: Participated in MIT sponsored Boston Area Linux Users Group IPTV Discussion

Impressive boost? Certainly, and it required nothing more than an hour of my time. An important goal in a job interview should be to break free of typical interview questions and stimulate actual conversation about yourself and the company. Nothing accomplishes this better than having interesting elements for your résumé. This entry on our résumé has accomplished two things, substantiated our previous claims with a credible institution (MIT), but also has shown how we've used our free time. recently did an interview with Judy Gilbert, staffing director at Google3. This is an interesting excerpt: IW: What will make my résumé pop? 3

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 JG: We look for people who have a track record of achievement; they’ve gone above and beyond in some way. It might mean that they’ve worked on open source projects, which shows that’s how they want to spend some of their free time. Volunteer work is something that can show real commitment. We’re looking for those who find ways to go above and beyond.

Google is one of the hottest current employers, hiring everyone from financial analysts, to marketing directors, to computer programmers. Again, this activity took me no more than 2 hours, one hour for the meeting, and some commute time – it cost $0, yet gave my résumé the boost I was looking for. Coming from a small school, any affiliation I can tie with a more recognized institution lets me take advantage of their prominent recognition.

Take a look at the included résumé templates for a better feel on how to structure your résumé. While some of these tasks may seem time consuming, don't forgot that you've already spent years at college and spent tens of thousands of dollars on your education. 4) Interests and hobbies can be a valuable asset to a résumé and also serves as filler if you're job experience is lacking. The most important thing is to try and link it to the job you’re applying to. Keep this section very small because the focus should always be the actual experience that’s relevant to the job.

Implementing these practices and changing NOTHING ELSE I made the leap from job offers of $35,000 at small companies willing to talk to someone with my background, to my final package of $72,000 at a highly competitive Fortune 500 company. This quite literally translates to gaining over $30,000 for just a couple hours of work – can you afford to pass that up? Not only was I getting bigger offers, I was racking in more than double the volume of interviews from when I submitted my original résumé which only mentioned a few pieces of work experience and my education.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Section 4

The Résumé: Continue it Elsewhere I mentioned the analogy of my friend who struggled with providing too much content at once to his market on the college campus, the information overload was a turnoff to customers. We've created a lightweight résumé and now we aim to provide an additional source of content if those reading our résumé are curious about more details. To accomplish this, I created a website that included an 'About Me' section, an 'About My Jobs' section, a 'Coursework' section, and a 'Contact Information' section. In addition, I have a visually appealing résumé that's been formatted for the web and also a plain text printable version in case a hard copy needs to be printed and passed around the office. This model was found to be the most effective way to provide the most content without overloading the reader. From any screen, the user is provided with a volume of concise and focused information that's relevant. As I said before, many believe that your first impression occurs at the interview, this is a big mistake. Our goal is to create a powerful first impression without even meeting the employer, this will give them a chance to get excited about the interview. I included the templates that I created so that you can easily deploy a similar website. I was very fearful during the hiring process for the job I accepted, after my first contact they explained that both myself and a UC Berkeley Computer Science Major were being considered for the position – this came as a major shock to me and I felt a wave of futility come over me– UC Berkeley was way out of my league. After I was offered the job and I accepted, I asked the hiring manager and the people I interviewed with why I was the one they had picked. My boss told me that the two most important things they noticed was 1) how professional my website was and that no other candidate had anything similar and 2) my résumé proved that I was capable of going above and beyond the ordinary. They obviously didn't realize that the truth was that everything that made me appear to be 'above and beyond' was easily accomplished in far less time and effort than they thought. The website took a slight amount of time to create, but for you, modifying it for your needs is as simple and opening the files up in Microsoft Word and typing in your own information – but understand the amazing impact this make on an employer viewing it, they are truly blown away.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 What's the importance of the categories I used on the site?

About Me – This aims to paints a picture of who you are for those who read it. It's important to type this up and reflect your personality a bit while remaining professional. In 2-3 paragraphs write about yourself and what's important to you. Do you have any interesting hobbies? Have you overcome any amazing challenges? Let the reader feel like they're just sitting down with you having a conversation. You aren't trying to impress anyone here with your credentials. Just as important as skills are for getting the job done, nobody wants to work with someone they can't get along with. Paint yourself in a positive light as an outgoing and upbeat person who's easy to get along with.

About My Jobs – Your past work experience may have helped you fill out your résumé, but what REALLY happened at those jobs? Use this as a chance to talk about the skills you developed. Was it an internship you last worked at? Use it as a chance to describe how well you transitioned into full time employment, what you enjoyed about the experience. How were you able to adapt your skills to a new environment and conversely, how were you able to take something away from your work experience at the job and apply it to another part of your life. The focus here is adaptive skills, being able to cross apply skill sets and truly benefit from an experience. Did you do anything at this job that made you an asset to the company? Did you figure out a way to accomplish something more efficiently than their previous practices? Again, be positive and not cocky, this is your first impression on your employer.

Coursework – Using your college’s course catalog and your transcript, simply copy and paste the course descriptions into the document. Order the courses in relevance to the job you're applying for, it's wise to omit the obvious entry level courses. Also, anything you provide the employer with is grounds for conversation in the interview. If you had a D- in your Spanish course, it might be best to leave it off. There's nothing worse than someone else being an expert in something you've claimed proficiency at, when in reality you're completely oblivious to it. Be

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 able to have a conversation about everything you list. If there's only 10 classes from your college career you can have a detailed conversation about, only list those 10 classes. The biggest mistake a person can make is exaggerating their capabilities and then be called out on it.

Contact Information – Provide your name, email address, and phone number. Make sure to have a professional voice mail greeting on any phone number you provide and make sure you regularly check any email address that you've provided as well. Also, you're email address should reflect your professional name/alias. doesn't carry the same ring as .

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Section 5

Crash Course In Résumé Writing When we create our résumé there are essentially two areas to focus on, the content and the physical presentation. These are distinct and separate characteristics of the résumé that both have the ability to instantly make or break the sale of yourself to anyone reading it. Having aided numerous college students and graduates in developing their résumés, it's obvious that the most difficult part of the process is having them actually articulate what was important about their previous jobs. Your résumé is a highlight of skills, what you put into your jobs and what you brought to the company. Most people constructing résumé feel only list declarative statements regarding their experience and let the reader draw their conclusions. The objective with branding is to be telling the reader exactly why you're the perfect candidate for the job. This is the exact action that's led to such phenomenal success in advertising. “Red Bull – It Gives You Wings” or “Red Bull – Revitalizes Body and Mind” is much more effective than “Red Bull – Carbonated soda with added stimulants”.

Don't tell your employer what you did, tell them what you'll do for them through examples of what you did. Red Bull tells you exactly why you want to buy it, it doesn't describe itself and let you make a judgment call. Keep this in mind when developing your résumé. There are numerous skills you can draw from seemingly mundane work experience, to aid you in

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 creating content for your résumé we'll examine the case of a résumé that I revised for a college student applying for an internship. Take a look at the following original résumé I received:

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 First analyzing the content only, the biggest pitfall with this résumé goes back to the Red Bull example. We're simply stating descriptions of duties specific to these jobs for most cases, and omitting how this will actually apply to any job that we're attempting to be hired to. In this case, the student was simply looking for a summer internship. As stated, the pitfall is that it doesn't brand the student as a perfect candidate for a job outside of retail, how do fix this? There are a multitude of skills used at basic retail jobs and other low level part-time positions that we can emphasize to make ourselves more attractive for jobs that offer more responsibilities. The important question to ask yourself about any previous job experience is what was your contribution to the employer and what did you end up taking away from the experience. Take a look at the following questions and what that actually translates to on our résumé. The goal is to be able to emphasize skill sets that have an application in a wide range of work environments, or specific to the position you're apply to. The fact that you bagged groceries is more or less irrelevant to a future employer, the fact that you were personal responsible for customer satisfaction is much more important.

Did you do more than one thing at the job? Stock shelves and also ring customers out? Translation on Résumé: Fulfilled multiple responsibilities spanning one-on-one customer interaction and inventory management

Did you work in an industry you weren't familiar with? I had a friend who was applying to a major computer hardware manufacturer as a financial analyst. I glanced over his résumé and realized that he failed to emphasize the fact that his internship was a microchip manufacturer. Emphasize this! Translation on Résumé: Quickly adapted to language and practices in highly technical environment.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Did you serve any customer service roles? Even working in a store in the mall, if you were able to solve problems customers had, this is a great characteristic to emphasize. Translation on Résumé: Successfully handled conflict/resolution situations with clientele.

Did you fold clothes on shelves? Did you maintain the cleanliness of the store? Examine the big picture of this. Referring back to the Red Bull example, we don't want to list what we specifically did, we want to highlight the impact that was made through our duties Translation on Résumé: Actively worked to improve store presence to achieve dominance in competitive retail environments.

Did you work with a team, other members of the staff? Even if you didn't manage the team, a positive way to rephrase this is to draw attention to our capabilities to function in this environment. Nearly every interviewer I came across inquired about my capabilities to work with teams. The questions were usually in the form of “Have you worked with a team before? What's the largest team you've worked with? What were the drawbacks or benefits of your experience?” Bringing to light the success of your previous experiences on your résumé is always a plus. Whether you worked with 50 people in an accounting firm or you worked with three buddies in your summer painting business, this is a great résumé entry. Be able to explain to an interviewer how responsibilities were delegated based on each members strongest areas of competence. Translation on Résumé: Thrived in team based atmosphere OR Successfully coordinated team responsibilities and duties.

The aim of these examples is to demonstrate how menial tasks actually translate to the important duties which were fulfilled. A great practice when writing your résumé is to simply list your duties, then review the list and revise each duty to identify the impact it made for the employer. These examples may not directly apply to any work experience, but this should give you an idea of how to address even the most worthless previous job experience.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 One of the biggest mistakes made on recent graduates résumés is failing to accurately highlight the students strengths. 'Perception is Reality' is one of the most fundamental laws of all marketing, it can either make you or break you. Not properly showcasing responsibilities, duties, and impact is selling yourself short on a résumé. Being able to properly highlight talents, even at jobs you may consider unimportant, will give a major advantage is letting an employer know that you're ready for the next step in your career and you'll serve as an asset to a company.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Section 6

Word Choice in Résumé Writing Word choice can mean everything; the human subconscious can very rapidly draw conclusions simply based on the connotation of a word. What is connotation? Connotation is the emotional stigma attached to any given word. How important is this? It's important enough that the media and advertising industries have specialists whose sole function is focusing on proper word choice to make sure the message they want is delivered to the reader. Mainstream media is notorious for its use of word choice for properly delivering a message. Take note next time you read a newspaper, maybe you'll notice how American troops have come in contact with enemy snipers, and to retaliate the US has deployed an elite crew of sharpshooters. Is there a difference between a sharpshooter and a sniper? Probably not in their duties, but there's certainly a difference in the perception the reader walks away with. The sniper is sneaky and the sharpshooter is talented. Connotation has played a major role for centuries in writing simply because the impact is so incredible. If you're on a budget and shopping for a vehicle, you may notice the careful word choice again. Would you rather buy a car which is previously owned, or used? Enough examples, how can this be put into practice on a résumé? Simple use of a thesaurus when writing your résumé will prove to be a handy tool. Here are some common examples of changing word choice to paint yourself in the most positive light possible.

Poor Choice

Excellent Choice

Added up total sales

Articulated sales figures

Stocked Shelves

Aided with inventory control

Folded clothes

Improved store presence

Fixed coding mistakes in programming

Tuned code to optimize performance

Made cold calls for sales team

Actively pursued customer leads for sales force

Got coffee and bagels for staff

Served multiple duties to support senior staff members

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Promoted from bagger to cashier in grocery store Excelled as entry level clerk and promoted to demanding multi-responsibility position Told Kathy to stock the back room instead of spraying saliva in customer's faces when she talked

Assessed employee strengths and weakness to increase customer satisfaction

You get the picture! Professionalism is key. Be sure to understand the difference between utilizing proper word choice and flat out lying or embellishing the truth. Every single entry on your résumé is fair grounds for discussion in an interview. If you can't maintain a dialog supporting the claims you make in writing, you might as well walk out of the interview and look for the next potential employer. Again, the purpose of this practice to focus on skills that are applicable to your target job that already exist in your previous work experience. It's been stated that your résumé's first impression is made within 30 seconds, and some even claim it's made within 3-4 seconds. That's barely any time at all, what does this mean in terms of word choice? Always start each bullet point with a positive verb which immediately invokes a beneficial connotation. Be sure to reference the supplementary links which will give more tips on strong words to use. Just as we spend time carefully selecting our words, adding more descriptive adjectives and adverbs provides the same benefits. Brian Wansink explored the role of word choice in marketing in his recent book, Mindless Eating, which focused on many subtle marketing practices used in the food industry. Through proven tests, foods with descriptive titles were consistently rated higher in taste when compared with identical foods that had only been renamed. The perception of the food made the impact before it was even tested. The example from his book shows the two menus they created, the items were served in a cafeteria and the subjects were asked to review the food after they ate it. They randomly requested the reviews over the course of a known time period to keep the customers in the dark about their goals. Their hypothesis was true, the more vividly described foods ALWAYS received stronger positive feedback, simply because the human mind has a strong habit of drawing conclusions preemptively. Using vivid word choices immediately makes excites the brain. As we said, perception is reality and this can both hurt and aid us. Take a look at the examples from the 26 | P a g e

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 book and then we'll see how this applies to a résumé.

Menu A

Menu B

Red Beans with Rice

Traditional Cajun Red Beans with Rice

Seafood filet

Succulent Italian Seafood Filet

Grilled Chicken

Tender Grilled Chicken

Chicken Parmesan

Home-Style Chicken Parmesan

Chocolate Pudding

Satin Chocolate Pudding

Our goal is to use this same trick on a résumé to improve the reader's perception of us, giving us a more positive image before we even meet with them. I recently revised a peer's résumé and found that he included a personal interests section at the bottom. It was great for him to include this and fill up his résumé a little more, however, I was able to turbo charge it by adding some selective adjectives. Here are some of interests he included, along with the changes I made: Interest Before

Interest After

Working Out

Personal Training and Fitness


International Travel


Music and Acoustic Guitar


Amateur Boxing


Diversified Investment Management

These simple changes have a strong impact on the subconscious of anyone reading the résumé and will immediately stimulate the perception that the candidate is as vivid and well written as our phrasing. We talked about some tricks with word choice, we have just as many tricks for the physical presentation of our résumé. Again, this is nothing new, we're going to use some tried and true practices designers have been using for centuries. Have you ever wondered why certain advertisements catch your eye and others don’t even get a second glance? Or look 27 | P a g e

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 through the back of a magazine at the advertisements, which ones look like a scam operation being run out of someone’s basement and which are something you would actually buy? Believe it or not there’s a set of rules for what creates a visually stimulating composition, whether it’s a menu in a restaurant, an advertisement for a product, or even your résumé. The basic rules to follow with the presentation of the résumé are called the 'Principles of Design'4. Focusing on these rules will increase readability, professionalism, and create your first impression with the read. The elements and principles are as follows: - Negative space - Diagonals - Contrast - Asymmetry - Dominance

The included résumé templates are created with key elements in mind, but let’s go over the reasoning behind each of these. Negative space – This is synonymous with 'white space'. We don't want to have a lot of blank space on the résumé, if the résumé is visually lacking, it looks incomplete and unfinished. So fill your résumé closer to the borders, by adjusting the margins to a reasonably small amount. We don't want the page to be cluttered, but we don't want to have a lot of free space either. Diagonals – All lines are suggestive. Vertical lines suggest alertness and balance, horizontal lines suggest stability, and diagonals suggest movement and progress. All three types of lines should be used. Horizontal and vertical are simple, we'll have columns and rows used in presenting your résumé data. Diagonals are a little trickier, some creative italics and some accents will provide your résumé with a little bit of action for a visually stimulating piece. Contrast – Contrast refers to usage of darks and lights. Again, this will create a visually stimulating piece and also let us use our 'darks' to highlight key points of interest. In the world of typography and text, we'll be using large bold text to contrast with our thin small text, using the boldness to highlight key sections. 4

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Asymmetry – If the entire layout is symmetrical, to be blunt – it creates something visually boring. By creating an asymmetrical résumé we can effectively separate different types of information making the résumé quick to browse and find out the information being sought. Dates will be separated from descriptions and contact information will be placed in an easy to read location. Dominance – If someone were to glance at the page real quick, what's the first thing they should see? Of course your name, your name must be the brand stamped on the résumé. Keep your name large and legible along with your contact information. A struggle to identify who the résumé belongs to or how to contact them only creates another hurdle to overcome. Where Red Bull’s ad campaign perfectly demonstrates how we need to be direct with our message, Apple’s iPod ads have demonstrated the visual qualities needed for a résumé. Apple has been using these design principles to successfully market their iPods for years. It's success proven for capturing the eye of any one. Take a look an iPod add and see these techniques in action:

Negative space – Check. We need to have some blank space so nothing is too crowded, it also brings some focus on the product being sold Diagonals – Check. The diagonal lines of the arm dram us towards the iPod and create an image that suggests motion, we know the character is dancing – there’s action that’s visually

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 stimulating. Contrast – Check. Clear use of contrast, the entire character is not only a silhouette, but also the extreme contrast of the characters shadow and the white iPod and headphones which remind us what is being advertised. Asymmetry – Check. The character fills the entire ad, but is still on the right hand side, leaving the product itself alone and the highlight of the ad. Dominance – Check. Clear case of dominance, by isolating the iPod and contrasting it's color with the rest of the image, the eye is instantly targeted to the product. There's no question what this ad is for. Below is a visual example of how I've created a template, available to you, which includes all these same characteristics. Whether a recruiter will admit it or not, using these fundamental principles of design will get your résumé noticed in a stack of 100 others, and you can't get the job unless your résumé is read.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Some personal information was blurred, but review how the principles were applied. Negative space – Check. Text is much closer to all edges and formatting allows for it to spread out and fill the page. We have open space, but not enough to be distracting. We use straight lines to fill in the gaps that are otherwise created by indentations, this is a successful way to create a streamlined résumé that someone quickly read through without their focus being scattered across the page. Diagonals – Check. Difficult to see on a small scale, but all job titles and previous employers, along with student's name have been italicized and bolded. The reader can clearly separate different types of information. Contrast – Check. Bold typeface has been used to highlight important sections. The background shows multiple gradations of color from dark to light to be visually stimulating. While dramatic backgrounds aren’t appropriate for all job applications it’s an effective way to demonstrate creativity for creative job fields. Asymmetry – Check. There’s heavy sections of text on the left and clear pieces of information spread out. If someone just wants to see a timeline, they can gloss over the dates on the right, if they want to get more information, it’s clear where to look. Dominance – Check. We've isolated the student's name and contact information in the top right corner in the largest font size on the document. We've bold and italicized it as well so that the reader can instantly find out who it belongs to. While templates are included which have been optimized in terms of layout and design, feel free to experiment on your own with these same guidelines.

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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009 Section 7

What the Font? One of the easiest changes to make to a résumé is to change the font. By carefully selecting a font you can increase readability as well as the ability to quickly skim through the text quickly. Typography has been the subject of significant research for marketers and designers for the same reason it’s important on a résumé – when releasing an advertisement or printing text that’s cursory if it can’t be read quickly it will simply be ignored. In 2002, Wichita State University did research on the usability of fonts5, focusing on reading times, reading efficiency, and legibility. Imagine there’s just a couple entries on your résumé that would sell you to the person reading it – now imagine that they never notice it because as they gloss through a stack of 100 text filled pages they only catch fragmented portions of text. The myth that your résumé is being read from beginning to end with attention to each word is simply that, a myth. Focusing on legibility gives you the upper hand in making sure the contents makes into the conscious thought process of the reader. If most readers check their default font options in Microsoft Word or another word processing program, they would probably notice that the font is already set to Times New Roman. The study from Wichita State showed that Times New Roman has a high perceived level of attractiveness, but the reasoning for this was credited to the fact that Times is so commonly used in print publications and text documents that the familiarity with it makes it seem more natural. When tested in actual scenarios however, fonts such as Verdana, Tahoma, and Arial consistently showed faster read times and higher levels of reader preference. On a similar note, it was unanimous that artsy fonts like Comic Sans were dramatically more difficult and slower to read – so be sure to steer clear of them on your résumé. These fonts won’t make your résumé stand out, they’ll simply make it be ignored. How dramatic were the results of study? Well Times New Roman which is the most commonly found fonts on résumés didn’t stack up well compared to the suggested fonts. Look at the reader preference (defined as the aggregate of legibility and ease/quickness of reading):


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Small Schools, Big Jobs – The Product 2009

The statistics don’t lie, and the Wichita State Study used a dynamic sampling of people for the study (60 people from ages 18-55, those with corrected vision and those without). So when choosing a font, typically sticking with something very legible like Verdana or Arial is the safest bet. While no single change to your résumé will make it or break it, it’s the same as anything with lots of variables – there’s no disputing that putting as many factors in a positive position will positively improve it as a whole. Focus on the pointers discussed and polish your résumé until it truly shines. With a glowing résumé you will leave an amazing first impression and get your foot in the door, putting you in the best position to ace your interview.

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the product  

resumes and more

the product  

resumes and more