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When an Interview Expands

A resume client called in this morning to gave me a recap of her interview yesterday. She has agreed to let me share her story. I’ll let you know how the interview went soon, but first some background.

How it all Started

We updated and refocused the client’s resume on Monday afternoon and submitted her resume for two positions in the dental field. I’ve worked with this client previously for positions in other industries so I had already gained her trust. I coached her that she should be prepared that the dental field in our area is fairly saturated and many of the new dental hygiene graduates from the area will apply for dental assistant or lab positions to get their foot in the door. (I have done resume and career development seminars to the students in the dental hygiene program for the past 7 or 8 years, so I understand the market.) My client has 11 years of prior experience as a Chairside Assistant but it isn’t within the last 10 years. The positions were advertised on Career Builder and I train my clients to network whenever possible, so I cautioned her to understand that it might be challenging to get an interview. I have had clients with success on Career Builder, I just don’t want the job boards to be their primary source for positions and I want them to work on actual networking whenever possible.

Interview Scheduled

Amazingly, she called Tuesday to say she was scheduled for an interview at one of the two targets. We agreed she would stop by yesterday morning for new prints of her resume and references. We talked about her objectives. She was nervous but determined to make a good impression.

The Interview

This morning she called to share what happened. The interview scheduled at 11am with an orthodontist was very detailed. After meeting with him and answering a battery of questions, she went to work with the dental assistant and go over instruments, procedures, and other details of the job. After that she was asked to return to the practitioner and he expanded on some of the prior information and then asked her if she would like to return in the afternoon to observe. She agreed she would do that and spent the afternoon watching the staff work directly with patients. This interview ended up to be about four hours of her day yesterday but she left feeling as though it would be a great place to work.

I am well aware of team interviews and detailed company tours for many positions as well as multiple interviews for a position, but this was still unusual from my experience. My client’s attitude was excellent. We discussed many of the questions and her answers and agreed that it went very well. She also shared that the dentist from the other position also contacted her and gave her a phone interview.

She was off to write a thank you note next after I coached her on what content she might like to include.

What did I learn?

Career Builder postings can result in quick responses and interview requests. Interviews can surprise you, so be prepared for longer time commitments.

What I knew already

Interviewing styles differ from position to position, company to company.

What can you learn

Be prepared for the unusual and stay positive throughout the experience. Each interview opportunity is the chance to learn more about interviews in general, build confidence, and grow in industry knowledge. Practice good business etiquette in every phase of the job search. Never forget the thank you note.

Are You Disciplined or Does that Scare You?

Andrew Plath, Wildlight Photography

Photo credit: Andrew Plath, Wildlight Photography

The word “discipline” means different things to different people. Personnally, I like the word! Yesterday, I used the word “disciplined” in Twitter without even thinking about it. Almost immediately I got a reply from a someone I follow in Twitter teasing me for using that word, “@JulieWalraven did you just use that disgusting swearword “disc*****d”? GO wash your mouth out lol.” At the time, I was talking about needing to be more disciplined in writing my blogs but overall, I really have been on a constant search for a more disciplined life style.

I implement lots of tools to keep me disciplined. I use my Daytimer and write my list daily to keep things fresh in my mind. People have recommended a Blackberry or PDA but for me rewriting the list is therapeutic for me. For email, I use Outlook and have a myriad of folders to sort incoming mail. Alas, despite my system and the ready delete button, I admit that right now there are 475 e-mails in my inbox.

When I started blogging, I knew that I would sooner or later have to become disciplined in that area too. Blog topics aren’t a problem for me. They float through my head all day long. If I could transcribe straight from my thoughts, I would be fine. It’s the practice of actually selecting one of those blog ideas and writing the full post that gets difficult for me.

I can always find something else that needs doing more. When I was talking about needing discipline to blog, that’s what I meant. I need to actually sit down and write. In my life, there is always something that needs doing. Boredom doesn’t ever kick in. I just have to be disciplined enough to organize my priorities.

What about you? Do you like the word discipline or does it scare you? And would it help you in your career to be more disciplined? Time for me to write my list for tomorrow!

Are People Getting Ruder? Is it a sign of the times?

Andrew Plath, Wildlight Photography
Photo Credit: Andrew Plath, Wildlight Photography

Today I got a phone call from a prospective client. I began with a sentence or two of small talk and then responded to his question of rates. I answered that in order to answer his question, I would need to know more about him since we have several packages. I asked him to tell me about his present position and his goals. I have used that technique for a long time and it usually works very well. His answer startled me! He said, “You haven’t answered my question and if this is indicative of your work, then I can’t work with you” … and then hung up after less than 3 minutes on the line.

 

I live in the Midwest, this was a local call. I know other résumé writers have had clients that started out difficult but in 25 years, I have never had it happen to me. I usually end my rate quote with “does this fit your budget?” Though sometimes I have to work harder to get someone to trust me, the most common comment when I have finished a project is, “I am so glad I came, I feel so relieved.” I don’t even have a clue as to what field my caller was in because he never told me anything nor did he ask any question other than rate. Résumés are not a one size fits all kind of purchase. My prices range from student rates to executive rates and I have multiple rates in the middle to meet every level of a person’s career. I usually listen to the person’s story and try to determine whether there are additional issues that would affect his career, such as: was he recently laid off or is he a manager in a field that doesn’t pay well. A manager of a major manufacturing plant has different résumé needs than someone in retail management. I want to be fair. But this caller never gave me a chance. He challenged my abilities and hung up.

 

 

I debated for a bit after the call and decided to check reverse call and see if I could figure who called. Then I called back. I got voice mail and just left a message that said, “Hi, this is Julie. Someone called from this number and if you still need help, I would be happy to help you.” I didn’t and don’t expect I will hear back but you never know.

But it seems like people experience rudeness from veritable strangers frequently. Last night, I was “talking” to Kim Woodbridge of (Anti) Social Development blog (http://www.kimwoodbridge.com/) and she had just had a commenter on her blog that was very rude and she was having trouble responding to him. She was bothered by his responses. Blog writers open themselves up to responses that may surprise them. As we communicate more and more with strangers, either over the phone or by e-mail or in blogs or blog comments or by the host of social media tools that seem to be growing every day, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, do we need to be even more vigilant that we are not offending others?

When I teach classes on résumés and other career management tools, we discuss how you need to always be careful not to burn bridges. As I am teaching networking, I remind people that they need to nurture their network and keep doors open. I was surprised by my caller’s response and a little hurt, but had he called back, I would have still given him the same level of customer service and assistance that my clients have learned to depend upon.

How about you? Are you rude ever? Are you rude back? Or do you remain ever vigilant to make sure than you don’t offend others. Let’s talk!

 

Tested but not crushed

Andrew Plath, Wildlight Photography

Photo Credit: Andrew Plath, Wildlight Photography

Tested but not crushed… I’ll explain where that phrase comes from in a bit.

 

 

As you get to know me, you will find that I become very passionate about people or things that help me grow. In about 2003, a friend e-mailed me and her group of friends a link to Flylady (www.flylady.net) and said, someone might find this helpful. That was an understatement for sure! You’ll have to check out Flylady for yourself but she has definitely changed my life. A life coach could probably describe her. Yes, she’s a life coach to about 500,000 people around the world right now.

 

A brave woman, also known as Marla Cilley, she has steadily expanded her network of helpers to include a wide range of individuals specialized in areas that can help anyone. She teaches babysteps and connects you with her base of contacts. You can find all about Flylady’s friends by going to her website but the one that got me started on this blog topic today was her virtual personal trainer, Jonathon Roche, who has become my virtual personal trainer too.

I waffled about getting Jonathan’s Momentum Weight Loss System and have now found it to be right up on one of the best decisions I ever made. His heart rate monitor and the encouraging DVDs make me realize why I reached a plateau with my fitness goals. I wasn’t working hard enough! My target heart rate this morning was 153. Jonathan teaches how to use intervals (working for 3 to 5 minutes to get to a specific heart rate and building those incrementally through a 30 minute workout with recovery time between each 3 – 5 minute build up). On non-interval days, he advises you to do his No Excuses Workout which works on strengthening your muscle groups. Throughout the workout he is coaching and encouraging. His pet phrase is “We want to test you but not crush you.” He encourages you to work to meeting the goals of each session but not to the point of hurting yourself.

 

As I think about those words, “test you but not crush you”, it reminds me too of a Bible passage which talks about not giving you more burdens than you can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13).  “He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to see you through it,” is how my Message version of the Bible puts it.

 

With the challenges of the economy, Wall Street, election, and everything else happening on the news these days, I think many of us relate to feeling crushed. I’ve been in business for 25 years as a résumé writer and never have I seen my new résumé client numbers for Design Resumes drop as low as it has for the past month or so. I have to cling to both Jonathan’s advice and the Bible’s advice and know that I am being tested but I am not meant to be crushed.

 

I pull all my resources together at times like these. I read the Word more, I network with friends both to stay positive and let them know I am looking for business, I work on learning new marketing strategies, and I catch up on all the projects that got stuck while I was so busy for years. I use strategies Flylady has taught me, like using her timer, “You can do anything for 15 minutes” to keep working toward goals. Don’t forget to check her out on www.flylady.net!

 

My business contracts with Wausau Whitewater so my résumé writing side is not my only source of income. As the non-profit’s Operations Coordinator, I stay busy working on marketing and planning for the next whitewater season on the downtown whitewater course in Wausau, Wisconsin.

 

Again, all of my resources get pulled together and I remind myself that I am being tested but not crushed and I think this is critical for all of us these days. What about you? Are you being tested?

Proactive or Reactive?

Proactive or Reactive?

Proactive or Reactive?

The other day I had a client call for an appointment. In the process of setting his appointment, we talked about how the economy is affecting people’s choices for everything they do. Investing, purchasing, or scheduling appointments, it seems like people are holding back right now. He said that he believed that could change on November 5 (the day after the election) but at this point, he was going to be proactive. He wanted to get his résumé updated so that when the tide turns; he is ready for whatever opportunities materialize.

 

 

His strategy is one that I have shared with clients for years. If you continuously update your résumé so that the content is fresh and reflects your newest and strongest accomplishments, then you will be ready when that networking opportunity surfaces and you find a potential opportunity that matches your skills. Many people wait until something catastrophic happens, either they are terminated from a position, permanently laid off, or the company goes out of business. At that point, the emotions are running so high, a range of being angry, depressed, lost, or sad that you are not in the frame of mind to think of accomplishments. My client’s strategy of being proactive meant that he could clearly assess what he wanted to talk about on a résumé and share with the next potential employer.

 

Clients that take this proactive strategy are able to use the tools I and other professional résumé writers provide to select keywords that match their skills and remember stories about their accomplishments that can be transformed into “résumé speak” for them. They are better able to retrieve testimonials or endorsements from their employee evaluations or client thank you letters which can be incorporated into the résumé to demonstrate their value to future companies.

 

In addition, clients who are proactive are also generally better networkers. They maintain a presence on LinkedIn and are actively building their contacts and connections. They may be using a tool like Jason Alba’s JibberJobber,  www.jibberjobber.com to track their network connections and start building a list of companies that they might like to approach for their next career move. Jason has labeled the difference career management versus job search. Today in his blog, Jason invites you to play fill in the sentence comparing the two. Check out www.jibberjobber.com/blog to see if you can find more comparisons than he did.

 

In this entertaining exercise, Jason is pointing out how career management is critical in today’s world. It is increasingly obvious that nothing is forever these days. You can’t expect to have a job for 20 or 30 years the way that prior generations did. You can expect that you will transition to new jobs and possibly new careers multiple times in your working lifetime.

 

A professional résumé writer can certainly work with clients who are pushed into action by sudden job loss but clients who are proactive in their career management will be able to feel more in control if they suddenly find themselves in the job search mode. Which would you prefer to be? Proactive or reactive? If you want to be proactive, email me at design@dwave.net to schedule your appointment to get your resume ready for your next career move.

When Conviction Takes Over

Conviction, a creed to live by, putting your faith in God’s hands, a code of honor… where do values fit in with business and where do values fit in with your career?

Everyone has to make a decision about how they form their values. You might as well learn early on the source of my values. As the song says, “I’m A Believer.” This is what forms how I look at the world, how I have always looked at the world. But I firmly believe everyone has to make their own choice and develop their own set of values and their own source for their values.

I’ve been thinking extra hard about this values thing a lot lately. It’s all over the news, Wall Street, Main Street, Elections… but in my case it comes from something else. It is stewardship time at my church. I understand the need for stewardship campaigns. I should, as a one-time committee chair who created the campaign materials. This year is different. A new pastor is in place and I am sensing change in not just the type of campaign or how it is promoted. It feels different. I’m fully invested in hearing every word. I don’t think I’m alone either. I see the people around me wiping their eyes. Me too.

Today’s lesson was on the widow’s mite. It carried the theme from prior Sundays one step further. The lesson is about faith. Pastor Tim explained that we are willing to sacrifice for the things we value. In the widow’s case, she so valued the kingdom of God that she was willing to give all she had. So I am thinking about my faith and my values. As the pastor said, these are tough times. Could we be like the widow?

I think this is a time when we need to examine our values, whether they come from believing in God or some other source. Employers are going to be looking values, especially honesty and ethics more than ever before. Companies have fallen because of poor choices, poor ethics, and the willingness to look the other way.

If you have waffled in your ethics or values, one set at home and one set at work, or even another set at church perhaps, you might find yourself needing to think about how your values impact your future. 

Is it different now? Where does honesty and ethics fit in your career?

A Long Time Coming

Once upon a time, way back in 1983, I entered into the world of resume writing. It was so long ago and such a very different world than it is today. The journey continued with me building an understanding of what was needed to create a strong resume bit by bit.

The love of writing anything has been a part of my make-up for as long as I can remember. I stumbled on writing resumes in the beginning on a whim and found a market. I started finding out that it was a much bigger world than I thought. In the 1990’s, I started getting invites to a group called PARW and was curious but not enough to actually join the group. Professional Association of Resume Writers sounded impressive but what if they just took my money? It took until 1999 for me to take the chance. What a world that opened up! Instead of being a lonely resume writer in Central Wisconsin, I found that there were many people just like me. They were all over the United States, but even better, they were all over the world. The Internet opened up so many new opportunities. I could talk to those writers on the e-list. I could see how they were managing their businesses. I could make friends! I didn’t take long to join a second group in 2000. Now Career Management Alliance (CMA), it was then the Career Masters Institute.

In 2003, with the encouragement of a resume writer and career coach, Susan Guarneri, who moved briefly to Wausau, I took the exam to become a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). It was another move I should have done long ago.

This journey now has placed amazing resources at my fingertips from the greatest career management specialists in the world. My career friends are amazingly generous and willing to share their knowledge.

I’m not anywhere close to the end of my journey. I suspect that my journey is not unlike many peoples. You make choices, you hold back, you take a chance, and often you find that in taking that chance, you are blessed.

I will be sharing my knowledge and pointing my readers to knowledge from the masters in the career field and together I hope we can make your career and life journey better.


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