I'm done asking this but.... Hope me with jobs?
August 30, 2014 8:34 AM   Subscribe

The situation that prompted one of my first questions on AskMe is unfortunately still relevant. Logistics have improved, my depression is....eh. I'm 25 now and have been out of undergrad for over a year. This is my resume . Ignore the crappy formatting, but...

tell me, if you will: 1) What I should be doing and 2) how to get there 3) the fastest way to make decent pocket money right now. I'm very lucky to still be living with my parents and to have their support, so there aren't any huge expenses to deal with, but there IS debt to be paid. No more long-winded, wordy sob stories. I just need a (decent) job. Help, hivemind?
posted by marsbar77 to Work & Money (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you talked to your university's career services office? In my glance, your resume needs work.
posted by k8t at 8:45 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That was actually a sub-question.... I know it needs work, I just don't know what that looks like exactly. Any tips would be appreciated.
posted by marsbar77 at 8:53 AM on August 30, 2014

In answer to questions 2, may I offer some feedback about your resume?

Formatting: Out of date. Remove the sections about what you're seeking, your interests, and the part about references available on request. Move the education section to the bottom and put skills after that. Rewrite all bullet points without first-person language (no I, no my, etc). Left justify all position subheaders (section headers can still be centered). Reformat bullets that are splitting up single lines of content.

Content: Rewrite all bullet points so that results are evident. For example, the first bullet under Chai Lifeline could be restated thusly: "Initiated a 20% increase in donations over the course of two years by improving the content of all public relations and large-scale charity gala collateral." See how much more of an impact that has? And guess what -- you made that impact! There are many places in your resume where you can emphasize what contributions you made -- not just the stuff you did from a "here are my job responsibilities" perspective.

Additionally, figure out what you're trying to emphasize with the bullets you put down. What do you want a potential employer to know about you? If you have to, write down the top three benefits you'd bring to an employer on a separate piece of paper and then, much like a thesis statement in an essay, make sure all supporting bullets in every single section support that thesis clearly. I'm an art director/educator. Every bullet point on my resume helps demonstrate that I produce award-winning, efficiently-designed, and popular-with-kids content and designs. What do you bring to the table? Showcase that with results as evidence.

In fact, if you want, MeMail me and I will gladly help you with a new draft of your resume and point you in the direction of some resources that might help you market yourself to potential employers in your line of work.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:57 AM on August 30, 2014 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: Memailed you!
posted by marsbar77 at 9:08 AM on August 30, 2014

I think if you cut out a lot of the verbiage on your resume and made the font bigger for the parts you want to emphasize, it would help. There is a lot of room for paring down your text (example that jumped out at me: "cancer rehabilitation" takes up a lot of space and is repeated twice in one bullet point). Be ruthless. Remember people are basically just going to glance at your resume for a first pass.

Applying to jobs through standard channels (like an online application system) has a depressingly low success rate. Some statistics say that the majority of jobs (~60%) are filled through side channels, i.e. someone has to know who you are beforehand and pull your resume out of the pile. The online system is just a formality. So if you aren't getting many callbacks through standard channels it doesn't reflect your strength as a candidate.

It's worth talking to your career office. If people are recruiting for jobs you want, going through the career center will get you noticed. If not, they might be able to give you advice on how to set up "informational interviews", perhaps with alumni.

In my experience there is sort of a desperate hope that one of these interviews will lead to a job offer, but it's best to bury that as much as possible. Focus on making a good impression and asking good questions: you can learn how people in certain fields talk, what they are looking for, how to present yourself in a way they can understand, and perhaps even find jobs or areas you would like but hadn't considered. This will all improve your odds of finding a job and hopefully make the whole process less frustrating, especially if you are looking at fields you aren't familiar with.
posted by vogon_poet at 9:11 AM on August 30, 2014

Response by poster: Not threadsitting, but just to clarify: by "what should I be doing?" I'm asking what you think, based on what little you can get from my resume, I should look into as a career. Anything and everything is appreciated though.
posted by marsbar77 at 9:19 AM on August 30, 2014

You should probably talk to your university's career services department (and/or a therapist), your question is essentially "what should I do with my life?" and a bunch of strangers on the internet aren't going to be able to help you very much with that one.
posted by Ndwright at 9:42 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

After you totally re-do your resume, you should be looking for entry-level positions in the social services field.

Check out some of the jobs on USAjobs.gov

Another option for you would be to work in a call center of a large corporation. I started out at the phone company. Me and my degree in English. Your fluency in a couple of languages can really help.

Weirdly enough, have you thought about working as an analyst at the CIA?

eBay hires folks fluent in languages, that's out of Salt Lake City, and you'll be working with Mormon Missionaries, but hey!

You're not really eligible for much with just a BA in psych, anymore than I was eligible for much with my liberal arts degree. I learned how to learn, and I can teach English, but beyond that...it opens the first door, that's it.

But that resume...you need an overhaul, but quick!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:43 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you are interested in psych or social services check out any local psychiatric hospitals. You can be a Mental Health Tech and work directly with the patients on the floor, or be a case manager/discharge planner. You can't be a therapist without a Masters Degree but that job will help you figure out if you even want to be a therapist.
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:49 AM on August 30, 2014

It is actually really difficult to get a sense for what sort of jobs you are interested in looking at your resume alone: writing, customer service, data analysis?

My first thought reading your resume was some sort of research support work (research assistant, research coordinator, research secretary) in a clinical setting. Columbia posts these positions all the time (Memorial Sloan Kettering, Weill Cornell and similar places also have a ton of these). I think you could leverage your research experience, writing and customer service skills for these types of job, and your psychology/science-y background would be pretty ideal.
posted by yonglin at 9:57 AM on August 30, 2014

1) What I should be doing and 2) how to get there

You favorited my answer in that last question, so I am going to resuggest one of those careers, list some other things to look into, and also try to answer how to get there. Some of this stuff I have already posted many times on ask meta, but I think I'm going to add new info as to how to get there for you.

So based on your background (and I see even more of this on your resume, too), I think you could go for medical writing. There are definitely continuing medical communication (CME) companies that write material to educated PCPs and/or specialists, and those type of companies will either hire a pack of PhDs OR a pack of people with BAs who like science (and with your background, you have a strength that I would assume that you would be a stronger candidate).

Now there isn't just medical communications, though. Universities also write grants and/or CME material, so this is another place to look for employment.

Finally, a couple yrs ago I went on a quest to find what types of jobs there are for medical/science writing. Universities often have a publicity department and some have that just for the biological sciences. What they want is someone to take the material from the PIs and translate into terms and articles for lay people - I have to admit this type of job looked really intriguing/interesting to me, and I did not pursue that route for my own reasons, but you might look into that too.

Finally, that CME type writing position? Those companies (and other medical communication companies) usually hire editors. The editors don't really work on the content, BUT they will copy edit and make sure the references are correct, update them - I think with a tiny bit of work, you would be a shoe in. IF you go this route, do it for a fixed amount of time and then look to get into medical writing. I suspect that you would be bored if you become a copy editor, but I could be wrong.

How to get there:

I am actually going to stick with medical communications, because that is what I know.

First, update your skills, just a tiny bit.In particular, *most* companies use the American Medical Association (AMA) style. The book is a doorstop and it is updated every few years. Now, instead of going through the whole book, I would google for AMA updates, find summaries of the AMA style guide written by editors and study and learn it. Learn it so that you can edit a document if you need to - do not spend more than a month on this, because you quickly learn it, pass a test, and learn the rest on the job. But the goal here is to learn enough for any tests.

Next, go look at samples online. There is a company that I would personally recommend to look at their samples (because I think they are beautiful and I have worked with them before), but you don't have to limit yourself to that. Google continuing medical education and slides, and see you can find. MEdcape publishes stuff online, too. What you want to study and look at are how the slides are presented - AMA style referencing but succinct. Look at the wording used, types of figures (mainly study designs).You are looking at this with the goal to pass a test if you need it, although this step might be overkill. Again, limit this to the same month that you orweeks that you are learning CME.

You need to fix that resume (I will email you) and share some ideas, but really think about how you should present yourself if the goal is "editor."

Okay, now that you are done with your month long training, you are ready to run at trying to get a job.

I have said this 1000 times on ask meta, but don't just passively apply for advertised jobs. Especially in medical communications - it is so fast paced, they don't have time to look, and when they do, they will grab the few people in front of them.

So instead, get a list of companies (again, I am emailing you and sharing at least one published list I found) and send either a brief email or letter to each company. I am assuming/hoping that you are in the New York/New Jersey area because there are tons of stuff here and your school was in the state, but ... you send it out to a nearby geographic area. IF you do not live near a hot spot for med communications, consider getting a google voice number with area code for the area, find a friend or hotel to stay, and take interviews in that area etc.

Anyway, send your brief email or letter about wanting to be a (medical writer, fact checker, editor, whatever you go with) to all these companies. There are also recruiters for this industry - it is a mixed bag but there are two who I think are good and I would recommend if you want them.But I would find/apply to tons of other companies first. The insane time of yr for medical communication companies is the last quarter of the yr, so ideally, apply right before this time as there will be a high need in the industry.

What to emphasize in person and even in your CV. On your resume, I was told by a recruiter to emphasize not just writing, but upper-level (ie, university) teaching experience in the sciences (ie, anatomy, physiology, if the students were prehealth or premed, blah blah blah) and research experience. Because you will probably apply to a place that mainly has people with undergrad degrees, you can emphasize a love of science,understanding stats, you have taught the material, etc.

Believe it or not, many of these places have a writing and/or editing test (this is why you reviewed AMA style). The test is anything from read this and edit it in tracked changes and/or read a few journal articles and write an abstract or a few bullet points as to how you would explain X to a lay person. Now since you have an undergrad degree in this area and lit looks like you worked on articles, you should be able to read and interpret this type of info. I know that people have not gone on in the interview process because they fall at this point.You can also become a leading candidate if you do well on this point. I *do* think you have the background to do well vs. people with an undergrad degree and not much science. So do study the AMA style, etc.

Now the other areas that I pointed to such as grant writing/CME material at universities, or writing for the PR office. You have the tools to learn how to get there. Get an alumni list and see where people are. Or look up companies, see someone who has a job title that you want, and email them a brief "I am interested in a similar career can I meet with you for 30 minutes, talk on the phone for 20 minutes, or email - what is your preference?" This is how I found out about these career possibilities, but I didn't go onward. This was how I found out how to get into medical communications (linking for how to do info interviews), too. But don't take a passive role in this, if you want this for a job/career, go get the info and hear/learn about it from people who ARE doing the job. Then you can apply via those channels, acquire whatever skills they recommend, etc.

It just occurred to me -you might want to consider adding contract research organization to your list of possible places to work. I had a friend who did that after receiving a BA similar to what you did.

Now I am off to memail you- mainly for the resume, but I can point to other things if you want them.

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 10:21 AM on August 30, 2014 [13 favorites]

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