Potential "Career Day" Fiasco
March 14, 2009 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Looking for resources for a presentation on resumes and job-seeking that I volunteered to give to college students next month. I'm realizing that I know much less about this than necessary...

I volunteered last year to be part of a "career day" given by my co-ed fraternity at my alma mater. It never happened last year, and this year the committee organizing the event is under new leadership and contacted me to try the event again. Apparently I'm the only person who volunteered.

Rather than a presentation on various career choices, they want it to be more of a resume review and job-hunting tips. Now I'm not sure what to present, as I pretty much lucked into my current job by way of a temp job right after I graduated (5 years ago), so I haven't really had to worry about my resume or do too much job hunting in the real business world.

In addition to that, I majored in art and though my resume has changed slightly due to my current career path, my resume-writing experience is limited to creative fields. Many of the students I'll be presenting to are probably going into education (the college is well-known for this) for example, and I'm not at all sure what should be on a teacher's resume.

Hopefully they'll be able to recruit a few more alumni for this event, but I really feel like I'm getting in over my head. I'm looking for resources I can use to learn about what's expected on a resume these days, and tips for first-time job seekers in the current economic situation. I'd also like to have something I can bring with me for people to look at. I found a bunch of books on resumes and cover letters at the library, but they seem pretty dated. Any book or web site suggestions (or other resources - someone in HR?) would be appreciated, as well as any other tips for topics!
posted by LolaGeek to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't go to Virginia Tech, but I've used their Career Services website frequently!

Here's their section on resumes and CVs. And here's their section on cover letters. There's much more on the site, too!

Answering in the spirit of LFS (if indeed I'm correctly guessing your frat!)
posted by charmcityblues at 7:33 PM on March 14, 2009

This is a pretty good spread of general job-hunting, resume writing, interview and career management advice. It's not aimed at graduates or students specifically but I find it useful. It's an off-shoot of Fairfax Media who publish The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
posted by evil_esto at 8:50 PM on March 14, 2009

I know we're your rivals, but check out Cal's career center. They have a fabulous online resource section; specifically, you should check out the pages on resume writing.

Start here:

and then explore the rest of the site as time allows.
posted by samthemander at 9:16 PM on March 14, 2009

Hm, for some reason I thought it said you went to UVA... I'm completely making that up. Well, enjoy the Cal resources!
posted by samthemander at 9:17 PM on March 14, 2009

I don't know anything about teaching jobs, but more generally: I would tell them that although they do need a resume, and it needs to be well done (no errors, well written, blah blah blah), it ranks way down the list in terms of job search strategy. Sending out resumes as a way of finding a job is a fool's game, and they need to know it. Networking and informational interviewing is how people get most jobs, especially at the entry level, and the resume is more of a leave-behind than an opening gambit.

In terms of the resume having no errors: tell them to check, check again, have a friend check, and check again. When I worked as a headhunter, 60% or more of the resumes I received had at least one glaring (to me) error in spelling or grammar. The number of people who work as "Mangers" is surprising (these are usually people who claim to be detail-oriented). And nothing kills the claim of being "proficient in MS Word" faster than a document where someone has used spaces instead of tab stops, multiple mismatched fonts, and generally messed up formatting throughout. For people with job experience, this doesn't really matter so much, but entry-level candidates can't afford to be sloppy.

In terms of general job search advice I like the various "Knock 'em Dead" books by Martin Yate, and Cynthia Shapiro's "What does somebody have to do to get a job around here? 44 insider secrets that will get you hired" is pretty insightful.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:06 PM on March 14, 2009

One thing my friend in HR always says is to have a professional-sounding email address. "I don't care if your email for your friends is flygirl69@aol.com, I don't want to know about it."
posted by radioamy at 11:16 PM on March 14, 2009

So agree with radioamy. It's a common and tragic mistake I see on resumes and applications: email addresses that are obscene, disturbing or juvenile. Hiring managers don't react well at all. As a recruiter I sometimes counsel the (otherwise superior) applicant to change it or give me an alternative that is sensible and appropriate.

If I think you are border-line and you have a dumb email address - you get a short, polite email from me.
posted by evil_esto at 12:14 AM on March 15, 2009

Tell them to actually read the job application.
When I posted one I wrote out what the schedule would be and what the hourly pay would be.
Tons of people asked about both of those in their crummy cover letters.

And also check that your email program isn't setting a stupid nickname infront of your normal sounding email address.
posted by Iax at 12:39 AM on March 15, 2009

Thanks for all the tips so far! (Especially the e-mail address one - that was something I already knew, but probably would've forgotten to mention.) I've still got about a month to prepare, so if anyone has any other ideas, please keep them coming!

charmcityblues, sorry, I don't think we're in the same frat :o/
posted by LolaGeek at 8:01 AM on March 15, 2009

Honestly, your career history is irrelevant - they're not interested in your career, they're interested in theirs. You don't need to be particularly qualified to give the advice you're going to give, either - you just need to give good advice.

Personally, I would focus on giving them career advice and strategies they won't get from the college's careers office. There are 3,000,000 million examples of decent resumes online, and the careers office can help them with that - but in my experience, they don't go much beyond that and campus recruitment.

So, I would really look at expanded strategies for a tight job market: personal networking, social networking via LinkedIn and Facebook, targeted strategies (where's the website of that woman who wants to work at Twitter that's been all over the web this week?), using Twitter to make connections in target companies (see tip #4), creating strategic portfolios even for teaching jobs, and using blogging to gain credibility in your field. And for God's sake, tell them to Google their names and see what happens and clean up accordingly.

I'd also give them some resources they probably won't get from the careers office. Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist is a good one.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:57 AM on March 15, 2009

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