Tips for Polishing Your Resume

August 16, 2010 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Just as April is a perfect time for some spring cleaning, the last few weeks of August — when things are slower and most of us start looking ahead to the busy fall — is a great time to dust off the cobwebs from your resume. Hiring experts say that even those not involved in an active job hunt should have an updated and polished resume — because sometimes when you’re not looking, that’s just when someone gets interested in you, right?

And for those on a job hunt, it’s important to continually update your resume. Use the hard-won knowledge you’re gaining about what works and doesn’t in a job search to ensure that you are using your resume to its best advantage — and that all parts of it are working for you rather than against you. Also, you want your resume to scream relevance — and the best way to do this is to highlight what you’ve been doing lately, such as freelance or consulting work.

Here are some tips for polishing your resume whether you’re actively job hunting or not:

*Keep it updated. Often, once someone lands a  job, they let their resume languish. And then when they need it again, they’re furiously seeking to include information about their most recent job and activities. It’s better to continually update your resume with details about your most professional experience, freelance work, awards, honors and references or recommendations. (And to make this information fit, make sure to cut long-ago or less relevant positions and honors.) That way, when you make a contact who wants to see your resume (who may be key to getting your next job) you can show how organized you are by immediately sending it to them. And don’t forget to keep an updated copy of your resume on LinkedIn or other professional networking sites you’re on — a good number of people have outdated resumes on these sites, and that means they aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunity right before them.

*Edit with care. A tendency among mid-career professionals, especially, is to pack a ton of information on their resume — after all, they’ve worked hard to gain this experience and want to show it off. Yet too-packed descriptions and paragraphs often have the opposite effect and can frustrate a recruiter — they want to know what you think are your most important qualities and qualifications. Prioritize. Then ruthlessly edit each section of your resume, especially the job descriptions, and take care in word choice. Less is usually more. Also, give your resume some room to breathe. Don’t include so much in any one each section so that it’s literally hard to read on the page. White space is also your friend — provide a little room between sections.

*Simple and elegant is usually best. A resume is your professional calling card — it isn’t an advertising flier or press release. So while it may not look exciting or sound exciting, you’re better off keeping it plain vanilla in terms of look and language.  It’s best to ease up on the bold key and to lightly use italics, dashes or underlining to make your point. Also, these can turn into gobbledygook in this world of scanners and email attachments — make sure you send your resume as an attachment to yourself and print it out before sending to others so that you can see what it will really look like once printed out (which it will be).  Also, when printing your resume at a copy shop (and you should always show up to interviews with your resume on a paper of decent stock) don’t use odd-sized or boldly colored paper; you will be making a statement by doing that and it’s usually not one you want to make. And don’t include your picture on your resume unless requested to do so. And remember, it’s best to leave off items that really aren’t any of a potential employer’s business — such as personal data like marital status or how many kids you have, and statements such as “in excellent health.” Keep it focused on your professional achievements — and polish away!

*Some good news and congratulations today — Max Frumes, a recent graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism (and a participant in its Washington program), has landed a full-time job with The Deal (www.thedeal.com) in New York as a private-equity reporter, and as he says, “it was partly serendipity.” (As it so often is in job hunting, by the way!) He wasn’t looking for a full-time position because he had an internship lined up with Bloomberg in New York for the fall. Because there was a lag between his graduation in June from Medill and the fall start date for the internship, he was freelancing in D.C. As he was looking for more freelance opportunities to tide him over, he contacted a MarketWatch reporter he had gotten to know through his work at Medill. Though MarketWatch didn’t have a freelance budget, he sent Max’s name to someone with his previous organization — The Deal — about temporary work, and a month later, they called him for interviews for a full-time job. So again, networking is the absolute key to getting a good job — even when you aren’t necessarily looking for one!

Congratulations and best of luck to Max! And please pass along your story — or spread the word to others who have landed well and ask them to get in touch — as they are so instructive about how people really get jobs in this competitive market.

*And now, for some fresh communications and journalism leads — remember, I include these mostly to give an indication of who is really hiring in the D.C. area and for what types of jobs (your best bet is still to try to find someone within an organization you’re targeting to get your resume to decision makers):

*Intelsat in D.C. has an opening for a director of corporate communications:
Director, Corporate Communications
Intelsat – Washington, DC
years of Satellite Communications experience as the Director, Corporate Communications within the Corporate and Marketing Communications team of Intelsat. The…
From washingtonpost.com

*The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in D.C. has several openings on its marketing and communications team, including for a director of strategic philanthropy:

Director of Strategic Philanthropy
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation- Washington, DC Office – Washington, DC
of Marketing and Communications, development support… fundraising plans. • Support preparation of communication/marketing materials related to Keystone and…
From idealist.org

*This might be a good opportunity for a transitioning journalist, especially one with a background and interest in conservation issues — the National Parks Conservation Association in D.C. is looking for a program manager with a geographic focus on Virginia:

VA Program Manager
National Parks Conservation Association – Washington, DC
motivated, strategic, results-oriented, collaborative leader with excellent communication skills. BA/BS degree with three to five years of equivalent experience…
From idealist.org

*The Center for Public Integrity in D.C. has an opening for a senior Web developer:

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism publisher, is seeking a Senior Web Developer to work at its headquarters in Washington DC.

The Web Developer will help lead development and redevelopment of websites on the Django and Drupal platforms. Maintenance of existing websites on other platforms, such as Expression Engine, will also be required. This position reports to the Web editor and the Chief Digital Officer.

Main Responsibilities:

• Lead development of the next generation of Web platforms, social networking tools and publishing tools to showcase the Center’s award-winning reporting.

• Coordinate with editors and Web producers to ensure that needed functionality meets usability and workflow requirements.

• Implement bug fixes and assist with routine maintenance of existing websites.

• Research emerging technologies to help identify potential revenue opportunities and/or enhancements to website user experience.

• Participate in all aspects of website development/redevelopment: analysis, planning, testing, development, maintenance.

Required Qualifications:

• Minimum 2 years experience developing in Django and Drupal.

• Strong Python knowledge.

• XML, CSS and Web Standards experience and knowledge

• Demonstrated ability to produce quality code and to lead other developers to produce quality code.

Preferred Skills:

• Experience in the news media industry.

• Experience working in other programming languages/frameworks.

• Experience in traditional software development.

• Prior leadership experience in Web development enterprise.

Skills:

• Must be able to produce high-quality code under clear deadlines.

• Must be able to manage multiple projects and consistently meet project deadlines

• Must be able to lead a team of other developers to produce quality code.

• Excellent written and spoken communication skills

• Excellent interpersonal skills

• Innovative, self-motivated approach to work

The Center offers a compensation and benefits package, including medical, dental, and vision insurance. All applications should be emailed to Web Editor Andrew Green at webdeveloper@publicintegrity.org.

*Also, the Center for Public Integrity has several fall Web internships (paid!) still available through the end of 2010:

The Center for Public Integrity’s Web department is looking to hire two or three web-savvy interns beginning as soon as possible and working through the end of the year. Interns will be expected to work 10 – 15 hours per week at a rate of $10 per hour.

Basic responsibilities will include:

·         Loading content to the Center’s website;

·         Basic web-based advertising (Google Ads);

·         Assistance with photo research and editing;

·         Maintaining archives of multimedia content;

·         Assistance with compiling analytics;

·         Other duties as assigned.

Additional responsibilities may include:

·         Assisting with multimedia projects;

·         Assisting with project management of major investigations.

The Center is looking to hire interns with basic content management system and HTML skills. Additional multimedia, social media and graphic design skills are a plus.

Interested applicants should send a resume and brief cover letter to Andrew Green at agreen@publicintegrity.org.

Note: This is a web-based position, and while it may offer opportunities to assist with web-based multimedia projects, it is a not a reporting and writing position.

*The Daily Record in Baltimore has an opening for a Web content producer:

The Daily Record, Maryland’s trusted source for business and legal news, is looking for someone skilled with databases and online media tools and a desire to put them to work in new and creative ways. This job is less reporting and writing and more data-driven, content-focused and technology-centric. We’re looking for someone familiar with the rhythms of a newsroom who can:

  • Create and import various forms of data from various sources and format for use online and in print products. Aggregate information that can be combined into one search function and “mashed” together for use by sophisticated business and legal news audiences.
  • Compile, format and help analyze data for computer-assisted reporting online and in print.
  • Perform all duties essential to our website operation, including but not limited to: operating our content management system; packaging stories online in creative and compelling ways; and utilizing hyperlinks, search engine optimization strategies, tags and any other tools that will generate traffic.
  • Build e-mail newsletters, breaking news e-blasts, text alerts and other products for distribution to our growing digital audience.

Please e-mail a resume and cover letter to rob.terry@thedailyrecord.com.

*The Detroit Free Press has an opening in its D.C. bureau for an auto writer:

The Detroit Free Press is seeking an auto writer who will be based in the newspaper’s Washington bureau. The reporter will cover regulatory and congressional issues related to the auto industry, including recall and safety matters, fuel economy debates, lobbying, and trade and labor policy developments.

The writer also will work closely with our Detroit-based autos team, helping to cover major news developments in the domestic and global auto industry. The writer also would occasionally collaborate on watchdog projects and breaking news with our political reporter based in Washington. We need an enterprising reporter who produces stories that range from watchdog to explanatory to analytical. Candidates must have clips showing experience with digging into public records and a track record for developing deep sourcing in the industry, agencies and congressional offices.

The Free Press is the nation’s ninth-largest Sunday newspaper. Its award-winning autos and business staff has been recognized by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers as producing one of the top business reports in the country.

Applicants should send a resume, cover letter and writing samples to Senior Managing Editor Jeff Taylor at jtaylor@freepress.com. Candidates should cite examples of how they have broken news and provided exclusive content in digital platforms.

*SNL Financial has an opening in its Arlington office for an energy reporter:

SNL Financial LC, a premier news and data company, is looking for a top-notch energy reporter to be based in its Arlington, Va., office. The position involves phone and face-to-face interviews, as well as some travel to attend conferences and other industry events. Energy industry reporting experience is a plus, specifically in the coal and power markets. SNL offers unique salary potential – competitive base salary and performance based bonuses – and a great working environment in our Arlington, VA office. Please submit a cover letter of interest, resume and writing samples to opportunities@snl.com. SNL Financial is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

*The Huffington Post is looking for a copy editor to be based in its D.C. office:

The Huffington Post is hiring a copy editor to be based at our downtown Washington, D.C. office.

Candidates should have strong editing skills and a working knowledge of national politics.

The position will involve editing a large volume of fast-moving content from HuffPost’s growing reporting team, and working closely with the DC bureau chief and the politics editor on reporting coverage. At least two years of editing experience required.

Send resume and references to dcjobs@huffingtonpost.com.

*And last but not least today, Groupon is looking for freelance writers:

Every day, Groupon emails over 8 million subscribers with a new thing to do, eat, or see in their city. Every business we feature gets a thoroughly researched and profoundly absurd descriptive write-up, and we are looking for a few freelance writers to add to our figurative stable of word wizards. Our freelancers are guaranteed a steady stream of work, and the creative style of our writing has won us recognition from such arbiters of taste as the NY Times. The succesful candidate will demonstrate an effortless knack for our unusual voice in his or her sample, and will also be able to point to hard evidence of the ability to self-direct and work under deadline.


For instructions and to apply, click http://hire.jobvite.com/j/?cj=oWemVfwb&s=Gorkana

Happy hunting!

Jodi

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How to Handle Screening Interviews When It’s Your Turn to Ask the Questions

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