There’s a host of dos and don’ts for resumes and cover letters. Over the years I have definitely committed some of the don’ts with intent at times and out of pure ignorance at others. For instance, immediately after graduating from undergrad I decided since blue was my favorite color I would use blue paper as my signature ‘look’. Needless to say a resume of very little experience on heavy resume stock (32lb. weight) in a baby blue paper shade said less about what I had to offer the company and more about my vapidness. it would take a few years before I realized that first resume post undergrad was the equivalent of girls during middle school years when writing reports in hot pink and purple gel pens became all the rage. The less knowledgeable my classmates were about the report area the more likely they were to add flourishes like pen colors and stickers to their report.
While my early job search faux pas was born out of ignorance in my latest search I have attempted to work outside of the norms with a bit of intent and purpose. For instance I have redesigned my resume from the acceptable multi-bulleted blocks of text upon text to one that pops with color and presents information in an easier and cleaner way, which I hope allows the hiring agent to remember my skills better. Instead of going with the staid white, ivory, and ecru (the eggshell of paper colors) I have opted to go with grey. Instead of a heavy resume stock (24 or 32 lbs) I have opted to go with standard weight (20 lbs) with linen or woven finish which gives the resume a tactile experience. For my splash of color I have gone with orange and my accent color is a deep turquoise blue. The combination of the orange with the grey paper represents my university’s color palette. I recognize all of these choice are DON’Ts, and in fact or huge don’ts. However, all of these choices have been made with a clear thought of what experience I want the hiring agent to have when viewing my resume package.
Likewise, I have decided to follow some standard resume dos that I think have a clear rational for doing. Despite being a recent grad school graduate I have decided to lead my resume with my work experience instead of my educational background. The rule of thumb is if you have substantive experience then your resume should highlight that prominently and first. Because there are so many individuals who decided to go straight from undergrad into a grad school program in the last few years I think this is a smart rule to follow. By presenting my work experience at the forefront you give yourself an opportunity to standout with the hiring agent as not just another grad resume. Another resume I do that I am keen to follow is the 2 page max rule. Regardless if the hiring agent is looking at 25 applicants or 250 applicants s/he will not have the patience to look at a resume longer than 2 pages and the last thing I want to do is annoy the hiring agent. Of course, I also suspect the inability to edit your resume represents your real inability to work as an individual — if you can’t edit something as simple as a resume how can the employer expect you to work on a project with little oversight. Of course sometimes corresponding dos are counterproductive as a fellow graduate recognized while reviewing her resume. She asked me to redesign her resume and presented me with her current resume of five pages. — yes, a resume and not a CV. When I asked why her resume was so long she noted the chronological nature of her resume. While, presenting all work experience is a ‘do’ for the chronological resume it loses its power when the presentation becomes longer than 2 pages. So, far I’ve noticed a few things since deciding to break some rules and keeping others with my resume:
- I receive back more responses in general than my fellow grads working the ‘dos’
- For interview opportunities I am more likely to get a positive response for the don’ts
- By being selective in my don’ts I have spent less time speaking to tertiary skills like design capabilities, computer competencies, team working and self-editing abilities
In general here are the don’ts I have decided to break for my resume and/or cover letter:
- use of a bright color (I am using orange which I suspect would be considered ‘bright’)
- going over one page for resume/coverletter (I max out to two pages while most of my cover letters are a page and half)
- don’t forget to include a mailing address on your resume/cover letter (I don’t have it on either my resume or cover letter and I suspect no employer spends postage to mail out a response to a resume and in the age of identity theft I am not inclined to have a piece of paper with some pertinent info floating in the ether)
- Use of colored paper and non-resume stock (I am using grey and 20 lb stock)
- Use of website links (I include a link to my LinkedIn page — but I used the LinkedIn option for a shorter and specific link so the link includes my name and is under 15 characters)
- Don’t forget to include your GPA (I don’t include it simply because most graduate programs require at least a 3.0 – on a 4.0 scale – to successfully navigate and to include it obfuscates the more germane point of what you actually learned)
- Don’t use graphics on your resume (I have a small graphic on the second page which is meant to be a wink-and-a-nod to how infographics dominate our understanding of information and I have designed resumes with this graphic to speak to areas of the world one has worked in)
- Don’t use fonts other than Times New Roman or Arial (I use Aller Regular and Aller Light for both my resume and cover letter)
Of course with the risks of breaking don’ts I am hoping for high rewards and I while I have not locked-in a new job yet there are signs that my risks are paying off. Recently, I applied through an online portal for a position that I suspected would have a high number of applicants and expected I would not get more than the automatic response that my application had uploaded properly. Instead of no response I received a stock ‘we are going in another direction’ email and a personalized email which gave me insight into what I was lacking as an applicant from the person who the position would directly report too. I think some of the rules I decided to break in my application package led to the personalized response based on the positive feedback of the ‘robustness’ of my package. As the job market continues to get tighter even for graduate school attendees you will want to rethink the standard approach to the package you send out into the job market, and will want to be purposeful in the do’s you follow and the don’ts you beak.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged grad resumes, grauduation resumes, milano the new school, resume, resume dos, the new school for Public Engagement | Leave a Comment »
No matter how well prepared I feel I am prepared for an interview there always seems to be one or two questions that take me be surprise. Recently, I had the opportunity to do a first round phone interview for an organization that I have high regard for and would love to work for. The interview was going well … and then the interviewer asked how is the job search going. Arguably an innocuous question, but once you consider the possible answers it becomes a bit of a conundrum. If I answered ‘fine’ then the question arises why are you looking at our org then, and if I answered truthfully “could be going better” it comes off as I am a bit embittered which makes me less of an employable option. While I stumbled through this question, there is a resource I go to time and time again to prep for interviews:
60 Seconds and You’re Hired
One of the things I like about this book is the section on tough interview questions. It generally helps and on several occasions I have been asked questions from this section in interviews. I also like to review the section on questions to ask. I usually have done a fair amount of research on the org and the interviewer so I have a bad habit of having no questions to ask. This section gives me go to questions to ask … regardless if I know the answer already.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged employment search, interview resources, job resource, milano the new school | Leave a Comment »
Career services as an undergrad was a fully formed process. At my undergrad college graduates were scheduled for an exit interview with career services and at the interview you discussed your plan to make use of your newly minted degree. Before leaving a follow up interview would be scheduled in which you would review your resume and cover letter skills. Lastly, all seniors took part in an interview session with career services.
It seemed like a burden at the time and often seniors would make a game out of avoiding the career services gauntlet. But looking back it was a process that, rightly so, supposed the senior wasn’t sure what was needed and insured engagement by them. My current career services department takes a traditional approach that requires the graduate to know not only what s/he wants to do next, but knows the path to get to that point. Given that many enter into graduate school from a different careerpath to expect within 2-3 years of fulltime studies a student would have the answer and the pathway to access the answer seems misplaced. My career services department offers a series of workshops: Bootcamp 1-3, a career changers workshop, and a series of miscellaneous workshops. Bootcamp 3 is an all day affair, yes as in 8 hours, that covers what you should have learned from bootcamp 1 and 2 as well as an on-camera interview. Before starting grad school I sat-in on a career services workshop (the career changers one), and I liked the idea that the program wanted to broach the idea of career changers which other university career services seemed less inclined to address.
Unfortunately what I know now, that I didn’t know then, was the lack of integration of the various workshops by my programs career services. So, while there is a career changers workshop the bootcamp series of workshops are structured as if there aren’t career changers in the group. PARs (Problem-Action-Results) is the only format offered for resume workshopping and I find it a bit difficult to take that my career services is assuming all graduates entered and are leaving with the same body of experience for the marketplace. I can understand if PARs is the ‘gold standard’ of resume preparation but in a market climate that requires standing out it would be nice to at least be informed of the alternatives. For instance realizing the way we consume information has changed with the advent of google, web 2.0, and the social media centric web I wanted to reflect that change in my resume. I am a fan of the infographs as it tells multiple little stories while presenting the big picture, and I wanted to incorporate infographic qualities into my resume. Sadly, my career services contact only could see PARs. Even after a conversation explaining my concern preparing a resume that parrots every other resume I was urged to go to bootcamp 1 (again) and to do problem-action-results statements for each employment experience and internship experiences on my resume. Needless to say it didn’t seem advantageous to me to sit in bootcamp 1 as it basically teaches you how to do PARs, and I know how to do it — I just recognize there may be other tools that could serve me better in this economic climate.
I wish I could say my university is an anomaly in it’s one pathway approach to career services but per conversations other recent graduates from other nationally recognized programs …. this is not the case. Sadly, instead of grad programs bolstering career services many career services are finding themselves swamped with more students and by proxy a higher demand on services. Because most students are focused on finding the right program for them by the time they begin thinking about what they need from career services, they are usually heading into graduation. Of course by graduation time its a little difficult to make any adjustments for the shortfalls of your programs career services.
Looking back to my selection process I wished I had asked how:
- alumni services are integrated into career services
- often career services reviews workshop offerings
- career services receives feedback from expected grads and alumni currently looking for employment
- often career services reviews employment search materials
- employment leads specific to your program are culled
I think that it was naive of me to expect my program to adjust its career services game to the economic market, but I think it is realistic to expect my program to put as much thought into the career services as they do in the coursework design. Likewise, I think those who are looking into programs, particularly given the financial climate, should ask and take time to explore the career services offerings from those programs on a shortlist. At the end of the day going to grad school is a huge undertaking both financially and time wise. If you go to school fulltime you will be out of the market for at least a few years, and of course you will be in significantly more debt than before starting a program. Entering back into the job market is process that requires some assistance in order to navigate effectively. That navigation means the difference between finding yourself in a job under capitalized and finding it difficult to meet your debt obligations, or worst yet you may find yourself unable to shift into your new careerpath and instead falling into your pre-grad school career choices.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged employment search, grad school, grad school career services, grad school resume, graduate school search, job, job search, milano career services, milano the new school, the New School | Leave a Comment »
During my high school years, this time of the year would mark the unofficial beginning of the prom season — aka the date of all dates. The junior and senior class would announce carnations/roses for sale, to be delivered on Valentine’s Day during home room. The proceeds would go to the respective class and essentially to the respective prom committees. For many if not most of the girls the carnations/roses represented an inclination of who would ask whom to the prom. The weeks of jockeying between the girls leading up to Valentine’s Day often left even the most assured girl feeling deflated at some point or unsure of her worth.
A few weeks ago a friend, and fellow alum, likened the job search and current market to the dating environment. At the time I didn’t realize how apropos her analogy is…..or realize how much I would find my confidence shaken by the process over the intervening weeks. I know that I am skilled, capable, willing, and able to do any of the jobs I’ve applied to over the last several weeks. I also know the ‘thanks but no thanks’ is not personal, and over the longer arc of the search speaks less about me and more about the temporal qualities of the time I applied to the position.
Recently, I applied to a position that I felt was tee’d up for me. I had the skills needed in spades, felt confident in my ability to excel in the role and felt I could make a clear case for being hired. I received a call regarding my résumé and 15 minutes into the phone interview was asked to come in for a second round in-person interview. The second round interview I Ieft feeling confident I had articulated what I had to offer the org, and what I could bring to the position. Because of the language during the later half of the interview I expected to advance to the third, final round, of the hiring process. When I hadn’t heard back from the org I followed up. The person who interviewed me, and the position would report too, informed me that there was a wrinkle in the hiring process. The HR director informed her that the cap on the position was 40K, which was well off the 56K salary line at my last position. I was willing to take a step back for the position because it was a good fit. I realized this bit of information represented an opportunity to negotiate so I responded informing her my floor was 47K and asked if the org would be able to come closer to this number. I was told it would take a few days to find out and that if it the org was able to meet this number I should be prepared to come in for the last stage of the hiring process — a presentation open to the entire org. I began preparing my presentation.
I found out that 47K was still too high and the best the org would be able to do is 42K. In that instance I found myself wildly flailing towards a quick depreciation of myself. I wondered how much I would be able to save by going to an income-based calculation for my student loans, if I could tough it out in my apartment for an additional two years, and I even tried to figure out how much I could save if I learned to do some basic sewing ( I figured I could save on work clothes if I could figure out how to make a basic work shirts — can’t blame a girl for trying). I was quickly preempted by being informed that she understood the 42K was too low and a good luck on your search response.
a few days later the job was reposted on the popular job search sites we all frequent. I found myself feeling like the girls post home room during high school doubley dejected and woefully nothing was comforting. It’s hard not to take employment search personal, especially considering how personal the grad experience is to some extent. You find yourself returning to school for personal reasons, pursuing coursework that personally resonates with your aspirations, and you sum up your grad school career with the highly personal thesis work.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged career search, employment, employment search, graduate school search, idealist.org, job search, management program, Milano, new school, post graduate, School of Public Engagement, TNS | Leave a Comment »
There are many reasons for returning to school – a desire to pick up skills not obtained during undergrad, a bridge to the management track, etc. For many who returned to school over the last few years, post the financial crisis of 2008, the desire to return also included a need to stay competitive in the shifting job market.
Where once program consideration needed to be a succinct finite experience presented to potential students, increasingly programs need to have a response for the ongoing dilemma of the post-grad experience in order to attract students willing to take on the debt load that is graduate school.
It is not lost on me that many within in my program and other local grads I know are finding it difficult to find employment or to find ‘adequate’ employment. By adequate I mean employment that actually makes use of the new skills developed during grad school and comes with a salary that supports the new debt load of grad school. Last spring, my last full semester, I began my employment search early in the semester after recognizing that while the news spoke of the economy being in recovery it still felt like a recession which meant finding employment even in NYC would be difficult at best. By the time graduation rolled around in May I had secured employment and had lucked up with a salary that could support the impending loan payments. I started a couple of days after graduation and four months later I found myself before the board of the organization being told they couldn’t afford to keep me on staff. Because of the short employment window I found myself without unemployment benefits, no severance package access, and loan payments coming due without haste….more importantly, I found myself within the thick of an employment search as the holiday headed into full swing and the December grads entered the market.
Because, arguably erroneously on my part, I looked at selecting my program solely on the strength of coursework offered, program ranking among peers/industry, and the like and less on the tangential services that a graduate will need not only while on campus but once a graduate moves into their chosen profession I thought I would spend the next several posts on exploring some of the struggles post program for those who have decided to attend graduate school in light of the economy. Foremost, I think it may help those who are looking into programs to better understand some of the needs they will need post graduating and will be able to better weight program options, and for those currently in school and like myself newly minted graduates hopefully these posts will help you to leverage your programs resources to meet the new economy’s shortcomings.
I should note that I don’t believe that many of the shortcomings I have and will experience during my current employment search are solely a problem with my grad program. I have friends who have gone to Ivy League programs and find themselves equally unemployed and searching, likewise I have friends who have done top tiered law schools and find themselves underemployed both within the legal profession (one such friend is in many respects a glorified paralegal with the title of legal researcher) and outside of the confines of the legal professional world. I think in part the financial crisis of 2008 shifted the marketplace in ways that many folks are just really understanding the long-term implications of and we are just starting to understand why there is no real way of going ‘back’ to the pre-2008 crisis days.
Posted in HipHopSays, Uncategorized | Tagged career services, employment, employment hunt, graduate, job hunt, job search, post-graduation | 2 Comments »
I get that question often. See, I was originally planning to graduate this past May. If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ll know that didn’t happen. If this is your first time on this blog, I’ll give you the quick and dirty: it didn’t happen. Yes, I’m still here. Still at Milano. Still trying to finish up my graduate program.
It’s really not that bad. I’m taking public finance, which I really enjoy. Some people aren’t that interested in tax policy, but it really is very interesting, especially if you’re interested in politics. I learned what the marginal rate really is, and why a lot of political arguments are just nonsense devoid of real policy and empirical data. A lot of lawmakers need to learn economics, especially public finance economics. But I digress…
I’m still at Milano. Still writing for this blog. But I do plan to graduate at the end of the semester, which means we need new writers to keep this thing going. Any takers? You don’t have to be the best blogger ever, just willing to share your grad school experiences with our cadre of readers, many of whom are prospective or incoming students. So give it a shot. Let us know if you’d like to write for the Milano Grad School Blog
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged public finance | 3 Comments »
It’s the summer time folks, at least for another few weeks. I hope all of you have been having a good summer. Some of you (heck, probably almost all of you) are trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your bill for the fall semester. You are not alone! That’s both good and bad. It’s good because you know there are others you can commiserate with, but it’s bad because there are others you’re competing with for precious resources. Isn’t that how it goes though?
I’ve been spending my days at the Center for New York City Affairs. We have some really interesting events coming up this fall. Make sure you stayed tuned to your emails and the New School calendar. Also make sure you follow the Center on Twitter.
What have you been up to this summer? Exciting internships? Looking for jobs post-graduation? What’s the word hummingbird?
Oh, if you are looking for a job, don’t forget that the Milano Career Connections group meets every Wednesday from 4:30pm – 6:00pm at 72 Fifth Avenue, Room 528. It’s a great opportunity to connect with other Milano alumni who are also on the job hunt. Sometimes Milano alum actually drop in with job offers, so don’t sleep! Contact the Career Development and Placement office for more information.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged career changing, internships, Milano, summer | Leave a Comment »