March 12, 2009

Job Search Tips – Better Resumes, Online Applications

Notes from a Career Counselor
by Amy Lindgren

Here are a couple of things that crossed my desk recently. Maybe something will provide inspiration or innovation as you go about your job search.

Jargonizing the Resume. It’s an age-old battle between a resume writer (me) and a job candidate (my client).

The writer wants to create a clear, crisp document and the candidate wants to include all those industry terms that fly around a conference room like gnats in the outfield.

Gnats? Well, maybe I’m harsh here, but my instinct is always to spit these terms out when I encounter them. Annoying, buzzy little things that clog my vision and fly up my nose just when I’m trying to concentrate on something important, like a pop fly.

Which is one way of saying, I’m no fan of jargon. The terms I’m especially not fond of this week come from the Human Resources world, which my client has spent oodles of training dollars and hard work to join. Now he wants to gain entrance by peppering his resume with terms like “onboarding” and “presenteeism” – as in, “onboarded employees” and “increased presenteeism.”

Whatever happened to “hired and trained staff” and “improved attendance?”

He argues, not without reason, that the scanning software in the online applications may be looking for these up-to-the-minute terms. If that’s the case, it’s the worst kind of linguistic tyranny I can imagine. Someone thinks of a new word, even though the old words were working fine, thank you, and essentially declares “If you don’t like it, I’m taking my bat and ball and going home.” The rest of us can’t play on the ball field at all, unless we swallow all those gnats and smile while we’re doing it. I swear – sometimes I despair.

Achieving what can’t be achieved.

I was inspired by a radio interview with poet Nikki Giovanni last week when she said something like this: “‘Nothing can be done’ is what people say when they don’t know what to do.”

Think about it. How many times have you faced an impossible task, only to find a way through it? When that happens, it’s because you kept trying, even when you couldn’t be sure of the outcome. Next time you don’t know what to do about a problem, assume you will succeed and keep going. Don’t ever settle for thinking that nothing can be done just because you don’t know what to do next.

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