Monthly Archive for July, 2009

Tension’s Brewing Over Use Of The Internet; Be Sure You Know The Rules

Career Counseling

There’s tension building between employers and their staffs on their career paths over use of the Internet at work for personal and business uses.

Younger staffers, who are usually more tech-savvy than their bosses, are pushing for more access to social networking and others sites, both for work purposes and for when they’d like to take a break from their jobs.

Some find that the sites they are expected to use for researching and communicating for work are blocked; and they are unable to take a break to read a news story on line or check their personal e-mail or social network accounts.

Meanwhile, employers want the advantage of Internet technology, but are concerned about security for confidential competitive information, time being wasted and legal exposure. The result is that many lean toward blocking all or most access.

“Wide-open Internet access is the risky approach,” says Chris King, Palo Alto Network. But to close off all access is “increasingly untenable for cultural and business reasons.”

The wise careerist makes sure he understands his employer’s policy before blogging, tweeting, sending personal e-mails, to say nothing of watching sports and downloading movies. (Nearly half of U.S. employers have policies against visiting personal networking or video sharing sites during work hours.) If there’s not a policy in place, it’s smart to ask for guidance.

The American Management Association reports:

76% of the companies surveyed monitor Internet usage;
55% store and review e-mail;
51% use video surveillance;
50% store and review computer usuage;
22% record telephone calls.

Career Advice For Electronics

The Associated Press offers these “Tips for web, cell phone use at work”:

• Remember that anything you do on a company-issued computer or cell phone–in or out of the office–could be tracked by a boss, the courts or a regulator. Many employers monitor web site use, keystrokes, instant messages and e-mail. Some even archive text messages on work cell phones.

• Avoid mentioning your company, boss or co-workers in outline postings unless you have permission to do so.

• Avoid using any device to take or transmit any company-related photos, videos or other recordings without permission from management. This includes any images of company buildings or logos and embarrassing or unprofessional photos of co-workers or clients.

• Know your company’s policy on social networking, video web sites, e-mail and other tech-related activities.

• Regularly delete personal e-mail from your work account.

• Remember when searching for a job that many employers check social networking sites, blogs and other online activity.

A final piece of common sense career advice: Never post anything on a company-owned electronic device that you wouldn’t want to appear on the bulletin boards where you work.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Tales from the Resume Reef: 9 "Killer Shark" resume errors to avoid.

Career Advice: Tales from the Resume Reef: 9 “Killer Shark”…
Resume Errors To Avoid

This resume guidance from a pro, Greg Lachs, is well worth heeding. He writes:

Doing your own resume? Please pay attention to detail!

In today’s economy, employers can be even more fussy about the resumes they want to look at. So, it is more crucial than ever to avoid what I would call “killer shark” resume errors. These are ones who will most likely get your resume ignored, lost or not taken as seriously as you deserve.

These are the kinds of things I’ve fixed for other people in over a dozen years of working with resumes. Repairs of the “killer shark” problems didn’t guarantee results; the repairs did, though, remove obstacles to getting a resume read and for a candidate to be taken seriously for opportunities.

If you do your own resume, avoid the following “killer shark” errors.

1. Old contact information or contact information missing: This is a “killer” simply because it’s hard to reach you if you don’t provide the correct information. Make certain your contact information includes an email address you use regularly. If you put in your phone number, make certain you include any number you’d be ok with an employer calling. For most of us, it’s a cell phone.

2. Spelling Errors: This is a “killer.” Spell check exists in pretty much all word processing programs and most email clients as well. If you don’t spell check your resume, you are sending the message that you aren’t detail oriented. Not a good thing for an employer to see.

3. Handwritten Corrections: I’ve seen this more than I ever thought possible. There is NOTHING professional about using handwriting to update ANY information on a printed resume. If it means going to a friend’s house to type a resume from “scratch,” that’s better than someone seeing scrawled “corrections” on your resume. From experience, I can tell you that resumes with handwritten edits very quickly go to the bottom of the pile, if they are kept at all.

4. Additional Pages Without Contact Info: Here’s another “killer.” In today’s so called “paperless” world, we print out more than ever before. If you have a multipage resume, but your contact information is only on the first page, how does someone know that the other pages are part of the same resume? That becomes a kind of puzzle that hiring folks don’t have time for. Just put the same contact info (including your name) that you have on page 1 in the upper right corner of EVERY additional resume page.

5. Tiny Font Sizes: Ever seen something in print that was so small, you feel like you’d need a microscope to read it? I’ve seen resumes where 4,6 or 8 point fonts were used. Most hiring folks don’t keep a microscope around to read resumes. Use a font between 10-12 points: most folks are comfortable reading documents that are sized such. Anything smaller is potentially an eye test. And if it means your resume is a little longer, isn’t it better that it’s one that someone can read easily?

6. Space Killers: Not talking about “Alien” here. Don’t use a large font (over 12 points) throughout your resume to make it look “longer.” No one thinks it’s a better resume: just that you are eating up space. If you are filling out your resume that way, you NEED to shorten it. Switch to a 10-12 point font. If it means a “short resume,” change your default margins to 1” all around and increase the font size for your first page contact info to 14 or 16. Remember when you answered essay questions for tests? It wasn’t the length of the answer that the instructor was looking at: he or she was looking at the content of the writing. Same thing is true of a resume!

7. Personal Information: Leave your SSN, DL, date of birth, names of kids, name of spouse, date of wedding, etc. behind. I have seen these on a number of resumes, particularly those with a lot of work experience. These information bits are “killers” because you are giving away private information others can use for potentially bad purposes. Plus, employers DO NOT want to see info on marital or child status on the resume. They don’t want it, can’t ask for it and you don’t have to give it to them!

8. The Nefarious Bad Copy Killer: If your resume prints out oddly, or you have some poor copies made, don’t use them! I’ve had resumes faxed to me that were clearly not in good shape to begin with, considering I couldn’t read the fax. Make certain you are sending a “clean copy” no matter how you send it. Again, it relates to perceptions of professionalism. Hiring folks tend to think “If this person sent me this bad a copy of a resume, how detail-oriented is he/she?”

9. The Dark Fancy Paper Killer: Most of us print resumes in a dark font, and black is a good color to use for text. However, don’t let ANYONE talk you into putting that resume onto dark red, dark blue or any other dark paper color. Simply, it’s just very hard to read. Fax that, and it’s even more difficult for someone else to read. Plain white paper is just fine: if you want to use fancier paper for mailed resumes, stick to something like ivory or crème colors.

It’s easy to avoid “Killer Sharks” in the resume world. Keep things simple, professional and easy for someone else to read.

If you have more questions on resume writing, you will find tips at The Job Search Dolphin!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Help-wanted Sites Match Interests With Opportunities

Career Coaching

I’ve just read an article in The Wall Street Journal by Sarah E. Needeman, which I recommend to anyone searching for a job.

“Finding a job in a recession is tough, let alone one that suits your background and interests.” writes Ms. Needeman.
“But a strong fit is important. Chances are you won’t be happy if, say, you’re an introvert and vegetarian working as a sales rep for a foie gras purveyor.”

She goes on to report that there are now some help-wanted sites that offer to identify free of charge ideal career opportunities “much as dating sites pair up singles” that match interests.

She writes about three of them: Jobfox.com; Trovix.com; and CareerBuilder.com>

Check them out. They could be the key to your job search.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Six Steps To Protect Your Career In Tough Times

Career Coaching

It’s an unsettling fact: we are in one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. Layoffs are being felt across the board. Indicators suggest that more are yet to come.

Better to face reality than to hide our heads in the sand. It’s time to recession-proof your job so as to move forward on your career path

One school of thought holds that it is better to keep a low profile with the hope that you’ll be overlooked when the man with the axe comes around. That’s bad career advice. If you aren’t making a noticeable contribution to the success of your employer and getting proper credit, you will be an easy target.

Laying off someone who is quiet is much easier than pink-slipping the person who works hard and has earned visibility and creditability.

Six-Step Action Plan

Here are six steps you can take, beginning now, to protect and advance toward career success in these tough times.

1. Know what’s going on with your job, your department, your employer. Stay in the loop. Lunch and take coffee breaks with associates. Carefully study memos from the boss. Read trade journals.

2. Perform. Work hard and be seen as working hard.

3. Make yourself and your boss stand out as producers.

4. Don’t complain when you are asked to come in early and stay late. Be ready to take on extra work. Volunteer for special assignments. Suggest ways to improve your performance and that of your department.

5. Document your accomplishments. Make sure your employer is aware of your good work.

6. Be prepared to make a move if you are laid off. Keep up your contacts inside your organization and in your field of work. Learn new skills. Update your resume.

Hang in there. These trying times will pass. A new world of opportunity will emerge.

I wish you career success.

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

P.S. If you found this posting helpful, you will be interested in my semi-monthly Internet newsletter, The Career Accelerator. No charge…No obligation. It’s loaded with common sense career advice. Click here for more details.