Is Your Resume Ready for Your Next Career Move?

As a Walden Career Services Advisor, I review and provide feedback on hundreds of resumes every year. Whether you are transitioning into a new field, re-entering the workforce, looking for a leadership position, or targeting a job similar to your previous employment, you can create a resume that clearly and concisely communicates your unique qualifications, accomplishments, and professional focus.

Start with self-assessment. Reflect on your strengths. What are you most proud of in your academic and professional accomplishments?

Have clear job target in mind. With a clear job target, you can tailor your resume to highlight your skills and accomplishments that match the required qualifications for the position.

Create a clearly organized document.  Use clear section headers and consistent formatting. Avoid redundant statements and long, unorganized lists of duties and responsibilities.

Include a professional summary section that conveys your professional reputation or brand. This section should include three to five sentences that summarize your relevant experience, skills, and professional focus. For example:

Dedicated Community Leader and Adult Educator

Extensive experience in community based nonprofit management. Committed to building engaged communities around common goals through dialogue, education, and partnerships.  Hold M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Leadership; pursuing D.B.A. with specialization in Social Impact Management.

•   Mission Focused                                    •   Social Media
•   Program Development                           •   Fund Raising
•   Data-Driven Program Development      •   Staff & Volunteer Training

Write accomplishment and skill statements relevant to the position. In Career Services, we call these CAR statements. CAR statements include a challenge, action, and result.  Here are three examples that take a weak statement and turn it into a CAR statement. 

Weak:          •     Increased volunteer hours
Strong:         •     Increased volunteer hours in tutoring, administrative support, and facility maintenance from 520 hours to 1250 hours over 6 months by collaborating with local businesses

Weak:          •     Reduced costs
Strong:         •     Implemented a new inventory tracking system resulting in the elimination of duplicate orders and a yearly savings of over $30,000

Weak:           •     Improved safety
Strong:          •     Improved safety by enhancing the training curriculum and implementing a safety checklist which reduced the number of accidents by 60% over a 12-month period

Don’t forget to edit and proofread! Editing and proofreading are essential.Nothing will eliminate your resume from consideration faster than poor editing or misspelled words.

Here are additional resources to help you get your resume ready for your next career move:

This post also appeared on the Writing Center Blog.

Written by Career Services Advisor, Denise Pranke

 

Tips for Successfully Landing a Higher Ed Teaching Position 60 Days After Graduation

Treating your job search like a business can achieve real results.  Walden PhD in Management alumnus, Dr. Corner, strategically applied her business management and organizational skills to land a permanent part-time teaching position within 60 days of completing her program.  Dr. Corner sums it up by advising job seekers to start early, set goals, and have an action plan.

Although she actually landed the position 60 days after completing her program, the process started much earlier.  Dr. Corner outlines her steps to success:

1. Utilize Walden Career Services

Dr. Corner highly encourages all Walden students to take advantage of Walden’s useful and informative support services, including the Walden Career Services Center.  She scheduled a series of one-on-one appointments with a Walden Career Advisor who helped her to set clear goals and action steps to keep her on track.  Through the one-on-one coaching and website resources, Dr. Corner strengthened her CV and received tips and strategies for her job search.

2. Keep Evolving as a Professional

Dr. Corner emphasizes the importance of being prepared as the higher ed hiring process is very competitive.  She underscores that part of her success in landing the position came back to her experience both as a learner and a teacher.  So, if you are lacking teaching experience on your CV, make sure you seek out volunteer teaching positions in your community.  She also mentioned that higher ed institutions are very interested in seeing examples of your writing and how you provide constructive feedback to others.  Mentoring experience can prove to be beneficial in validating these skills. 

  1. Put Your Research Skills to Work

Doctoral students gain strong research skills.  Put these skills to work for your job search, she says.  LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool for one to conduct career research by engaging in groups, seeking out potential positions, connecting with recruiters and other higher ed instructors, as well as researching institutions.

With clear goals and an action plan in place, Dr. Corner was able to achieve her top career goal of staying connected to academia.  She will be joining Career Services as a guest panelist on our upcoming webinar, The Scoop on Hiring in Higher Edon Tuesday, April 22 from 12 – 1 p.m. EDT.  Please click on the webinar title to register.

Following are some resources on the Career Services website to help you launch your higher ed job search:

Written by Career Services Advisor, Nicolle Skalski

Have you heard about ResearchGate, a Professional Networking Site for Researchers?

When you think of large online professional networking sites, you probably consider LinkedIn and Google+. Are you aware that there is a valuable site for academic networking? It’s called ResearchGate.

ResearchGate is a free professional networking site for scientists and researchers founded in 2008 by medical doctors, Ijad Madisch and Sören Hofmayer, and computer scientist, Horst Fickenscher.  Madisch came up with the idea after he struggled to find an expert to consult concerning a problem he faced in his research. The site provides a platform for over 4 million members globally to share their data and research results. ResearchGate encourages sharing not only successful research results, but also failures. Madisch discussed in an interview  that much can be gained from exploring the reasons for failure and avoiding repeating the same mistake, but this opportunity is often missed because failures are typically not shared. The site also fosters discussion, consultation, and collaboration between researchers with similar interests and across disciplines. Dr. Daniel Salter from the Walden Center for Research Quality made this comment about ResearchGate, “One aspect of this site, which sets it apart from some of the similar ones, is the Q&A section.  RG members can subscribe to feeds in particular content areas, post questions to the community about research, and provide feedback and answers to questions posed by other scholars.”

ResearchGate members can upload a photo, create a profile based on research interests, expertise, and skills, and follow others’ research. The membership application requires that you use your institutional email address.  ResearchGate also has an extensive list of job postings for research related positions. You do not have to be a member to view the job postings at http://www.researchgate.net/jobs/

The Walden Career Services Center is a passionate advocate for building a strong professional network. Online professional networking provides an opportunity to exponentially increase your contact with other professionals, learn from others, and have an impact in your field. Check out ResearchGate.net at http://www.researchgate.net/aboutus.AboutUs.html

For more resources on publishing:

 

Written by Career Services Advisor, Denise Pranke

Book Review: How to Retire the Cheapskate Way by Jeff Yeager

Recently I reviewed an excellent book on financial planning for retirement.  I’m reviewing a second book because it approaches this topic from a different angle.  While the first book provides great strategies on how to plan and invest for retirement, this book How to Retire the Cheapskate Way by Jeff Yeager discusses how to save money by spending less and calculating your actual retirement living expenses, so you can retire earlier. 

It seems the common advice is to save enough for retirement so that you have about 70 to 80% of your current salary to live on in your retirement years.  Yeager questions this assumption by advising readers to carefully track their spending to figure out exactly what their actual living costs are and then do retirement projections from there.  Living costs may actually decrease in retirement.  Mortgages may be paid off, work-related commuting costs and lunches out end, and there is no need to buy and maintain a wardrobe for work.  He includes a US Department of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey from 2010 (page 68) that shows spending decreases by 45% between our peak spending years ages 45 to 54 and age 75+. 

An important cost in retirement is health insurance and there is an entire chapter dedicated to various healthcare options.  He also covers 50 ways to save money for retirement as well as low-cost entrepreneurial ventures to generate retirement income – like a private tutoring or pet sitting service.   Yeager’s book is both practical and highly entertaining as he sprinkles in stories of how individuals retired early and lived a frugal and happy lifestyle.  Even for those not yet thinking about retirement planning, this book is full of helpful money-saving strategies  well-worth reading.

Written by Senior Career Services Director Lisa Cook  

An Internship Can Land You a Job

Making a major career change takes courage, determination, and an investment in gaining new skills, but how, as the common expression goes, do you get your foot in the door when you don’t have any experience or connections in your new field? Stephanie, a Walden student in the B.S. in Forensic Psychology program, had years of banking and administrative experience before deciding to pursue her long time interest in forensic psychology. To start gaining experience in her new field, Stephanie decided to take the elective course “IDST 4003: Seminar with Internship”.

While searching for her internship, Stephanie attended a local conference on diversity and disparity. She said she was determined to engage with others at the conference, and “not be just a fly on the wall”. In a conversation with one of the conference speakers, Stephanie expressed her interest in finding an internship. She was advised to connect with the CEO of a local non-profit organization, Spectrum Resources, that helps ex-offenders reenter society. Within a week, Stephanie had a paid internship at Spectrum Resources helping with intake, shadowing a case manager, assisting with grants, planning the annual charity event, and being a guest speaker on a local radio station. Stephanie said the internship was a valuable learning experience. It offered her the opportunity to apply her academic knowledge, gain new skills and insights, meet people in her field, and share her experience with classmates in her course discussions.

Once Stephanie got her foot in the door at Spectrum Resources, she used the knowledge she gained in her academic program and her organizational skills to become a valuable member of the organization. When she mentioned that she would be looking for a job when her internship ended, they were so impressed with her work that they offered her a full-time position as an Employment Specialist. She is thrilled with the opportunity she has in her new position to help ex-offenders find employment and make a successful transition into the community. Her advice to others is to start searching for an internship, go to conferences, and ask for help. She said, “Get out and look for opportunities; they aren’t going to fall in your lap”.

Consider getting your foot in the door through an internship, field experience, or volunteer position. Here are some resources on the Career Services website to help you get started:

Strategic Volunteering for Career Success

From Take-Off to Landing- Undergraduate Career Success http://careercenter.waldenu.edu/921.htm

 

Written by Denise Pranke, Career Services Advisor

Book Review: Saving for Retirement by Gail MarksJarvis

Saving for retirement is important to think about, regardless of age.  We’re living longer and financial experts predict that our Social Security incomes will only cover part of our living expenses.  With this in mind, I just finished reading Saving for Retirement by Gail MarksJarvis, a writer for the Chicago Tribune. 

I found this book very interesting and full of links to great websites.  Financial advisors hold different opinions on how to save for retirement, so it is up to you to decide what is best for you.  These are suggestions from one financial expert, Gail MarksJarvis:

1)     The earlier we start saving, the more we benefit from time.  Whether it’s a savings account or a mutual fund, these accounts have the potential to make money for us through compound earnings.  So even if you can save just $5 per week for retirement – the price of a cup of coffee from Starbucks, it’s worth starting to save that money now, so it has longer to earn money for you.

2)     The safest investments are a savings account, certificate of deposit or a money market account as they are insured by the FDIC – see this link for more info:   http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/dis/

3)     Typically speaking, the safer the investment, the lower the earnings.  Beyond the FDIC-insured accounts above, people typically often consider mutual funds, as they are a way to invest in a variety of stocks and/or bonds.  Because mutual funds invest in many stocks and/or bonds, they can be less risky that choosing to invest in the stock of one company.  However, like stocks and bonds, there is no guarantee that you will keep the money you invest in mutual funds.  Like stocks and bonds, they will  earn or lose money, depending on the economy.    

4)     There is definitely a risk involved with mutual funds, stocks and bonds, as we saw with the fall of the stock market after the housing crash.  Stocks fell 57% between late 2007 and early 2009.  However, the people who kept their investments during those turbulent times eventually saw their investments come back up to their pre-fall levels.  The amount of time you expect to keep your money invested is an important consideration in the amount of risk to take with your investments.  For example, the closer one gets to retirement, the more cautious s/he may choose to be with their investments.  For more info, see: www.choosetosave.org.

5)     There is a converse relationship between how well stocks do and bonds do.  When stocks do well, bonds do not and vice versa.  Therefore, MarksJarvis suggests a balanced approach with a mix of both stocks and bonds in your mutual fund holdings.    

6)     If you invest in mutual funds, pay attention to the expense ratio – how much the mutual fund company charges to manage your fund.  Also, consider no-load funds so you avoid paying a commission when you buy or sell the fund.   

7)     Your employer may offer a retirement plan such as  a 401(k).  A 401(k) has strong tax advantages.  Your money is invested pre-tax and you aren’t taxed on any earnings on your accounts until you withdraw them after you retire.  If your employer offers  an “employer match” to part of your investment in your 401(k), that’s basically free money, so take advantage of it.

8)     Lastly, in addition to a 401(k), an important retirement savings plan is an individual retirement account (IRA).  You can house your IRA with a bank or a mutual fund company and you can invest in a CD, savings account, money market account, mutual fund, etc.  There are 2 types of IRA’s, the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA.  The type of IRA determines whether you are taxed when you withdraw the funds.  IRA accounts earn money for you tax-free until you withdraw money from them, which can start without a penalty at age 59 ½.  Please note that there are limits on how much you can invest in an IRA, depending on your age and income level.  For more information, be sure to see: http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Traditional-and-Roth-IRAs

Please consider that financial advisors will hold different opinions on how you should invest and save for retirement.  It’s up to you to carefully research and learn about your options and decide what works best for you personally, given your comfort level with risk and other factors. 

I hope you find this book review helpful and that it peaks your interest in researching additional options and resources to save for your retirement.

Written by Senior Career Services Director Lisa Cook

Book Review: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Why review a book on art in our Career Services blog?  One can never be too creative – it’s important for advancing our careers and solving problems.  A very easy and eye-catching book on creativity is Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon.  His basic premise is that artists evolve by studying other artists they admire (what he calls “stealing”) and then creating their own art.  They are the sum of their influences.  In other words, the more good ideas we collect, the more possible influences we have, and the more creative we are. 

I think this can be expanded beyond the world of art to career management.  He suggests studying one thinker you really love.  This could be a writer, activist, role model or someone highly successful in your career field.  Study all there is to know about that person.  If it is feasible, find three people that person admires and find all there is to know about them.  Then repeat this as many times as you can, like climbing up a tree.  (He states that eventually you will create your own branch!) 

The author advises that we look things up and chase down every reference.  Google your dreams and problems, go to the public library and find books that lead you to other books.  Always jot down new ideas, observations, and inspirations.  He uses a phrase we often tell our Walden students changing careers: “Fake it ‘til you make it!”  If you’re making a career change, meet people in your future field, go to their meetings, read what they’re reading, talk about their favorite topics – act as if you already are in that field.  Follow famous people online – pay attention to what they’re talking about, doing, and linking to – I would recommend doing this through LinkedIn.

To support your efforts, he ends with practical advice: keep your day job, take care of your health, keep a calendar to plan your work and set goals, and keep a logbook of your progress and a praise file for motivation.  So, I’ll end on this note: “Whom do you admire and what will you study and create this year?”

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Career Services Director