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Job Seekers' Questions -- #21 to #30 21. Where do I find the correct industry jargon to write my client's resume? 22. I want to write resumes professionally; where do I start? 23. Will a resume with vague dates be thrown away? 24. What will they think about why he left his last job? 25. How do I deal with my arrest record? 26. How to put retirement years on a resume for returning to work? 27. How can I give references if my past employer fired me? 28. Should I list my references right on the resume? 29. Do I really HAVE to fill out the application blanks? 30. Should I fill out the application blank in their office? 21. "What do you do when a job seeker works in an industry you know nothing about and requires industry jargon in their resume?" -Danni (Resume writer) Danni, this happens all the time; we resume writers CAN'T know everything about every field. But, no problem: the job-hunter DOES know his field, so you simply get him to describe his job(s) in detail and tell you all the "inside stuff" and the jargon used. You won't necessarily know how to SPELL all of this of course, and maybe your job hunter won't either. So it's important for him to GET SOME FEEDBACK on the completed resume from somebody in that field. (You can perhaps help him find somebody to review it.) THEN you can make any last-minute corrections based on that feedback. After a while you'll build up a passable knowledge of many different fields. You should begin now to assemble a notebook of examples of resumes in different fields. You can refer to your sample notebook when working on a new resume, and you may find JUST the right word or phrase that you and your job-hunter are looking for. My book, The Resume Catalog (which was originally MY sample notebook) has 200 such sample resumes you can refer to, and you should develop your own additional archive of examples.
Back to the top of this page 22. "I would like to work with resumes; the only ones I have written are my own and a few others I've done for my family and friends. I would like to know more about writing good resumes. Can you advise me on which book of yours I should begin with?"--Susie Dear Susie, the best book for OVERALL coverage of running your own resume business is my RESUME PRO, MAKE MONEY WRITING RESUMES. It covers everything you need. It's $24.95 (400 pages) but we've been doing a $10-off special lately -- so it's $14.95 plus $4 priority mail shipping (BIG HEAVY BOOK!) If you have a few MORE bucks to spend, the most POPULAR of my books is the RESUME CATALOG, because it has 200 Damn Good examples -- I think if you studied that, you'd have a pretty good idea what an effective resume should look like. So those are your first two "investments" -- "Pro" for the business end, "Catalog" for the writing end. You should also read ALL the stuff on this website, especially the 24 Hot Tips, these question-and-answer pages and the newsletter stuff where various problems are dealt with. GOOD LUCK!--Yana
Back to the top of this page 23. "The job seeker I worked with was very vague about his dates of employment. I was forced to just use the length of the jobs instead of the specific dates, for example:
- Office Manager, XYZ Company, 1 year
Will this person's resume end up in the trash can?" --Rebecca Behne It might very well end up in the trash can, Rebecca. Sometimes, if a client's work history is a total disaster, you may have no choice but to be a bit vague, and HOPE that it will fly. In that case, make the content as "juicy" and specific as you can, in hope of compensating. But try very hard to get at least some approximate dates, a specific year, because employers are very leery of date-less resumes, for good reason. You could at least say:
- Driver, ABC Company, 3 years
- 1992, Office Manager, XYZ company, 6 months
Back to the top of this page 24. "I'm working with a man in drug rehab; he previously worked as a driver for Pitney Bowes and left voluntarily to go into a 3-month drug rehab program (at his family's insistence). The job application asks for "reason left", and he wants to say "family reasons". Will that work?"--Kathie Mears, Roving Resume Writers Kathie, I think it may be too vague and might trigger suspicion or direct questioning for more details. Maybe he would do better to try these responses: a) Write (in small letters) "Will discuss at interview" in the box provided for the reason. Writing SOMETHING in the box is better than writing NOTHING, if only to preclude some clerk noticing the blank space and returning the job application "to be completed". b) Your job hunter could enter "Health problem (now resolved)" or "Health problem (now okay)" and most likely he would not be called upon to explain that until AFTER he has arrived for an interview. At least then he will have made it past the application blank hurdle.
Back to the top of this page 25. "How do I deal with my arrest record? Do I have to put that on the application blank?" -- Gerry L. Gerry, (*SEE CORRECTION BELOW) Eventually they will have to know about your arrest record, BEFORE you can actually get hired. But meanwhile, on the application, TRY simply writing "Will discuss in the interview" rather than putting the details on the application blank. This MAY (or may not) work--maybe the person who initially scans the resume won't even notice it, and you'll at least get a chance at the interview. BUT... don't lie. Lying about it would be grounds for getting fired after you get hired. Bummer. *P.S. CORRECTED advice from a visitor to this column: 3-17-2000: "I happened to stumble across your website and came across question 25 in your FAQs in which someone asks about revealing their arrest record. You tell them to discuss it in the interview, that lying about it would be grounds for firing . Generally it is neither necessary, nor advisable to discuss an ARREST record. Many people are arrested and later have the charges dropped or are acquitted. While it IS necessary to reveal a record or CONVICTIONS for crimes, one is under no obligation to similarly reveal ARRESTS. In fact employers are generally prohibited from even asking about ARRESTS, therefore you should not have to lie about it." -- Michael Lesser, New York State. (Thank you, Michael, for this correction.)
Back to the top of this page 26. "I have a client who retired 10 years ago. He was one of many who was forced to retire early from an engineering career (after 20 years) at Hughes Aircraft. He wants to re-enter the engineering profession. His last resume states that he was an apartment owner and talks about all the responsibilities that go with that. Is there any way for me to avoid saying all that?" -- Margie, Resume writer Margie, If he's only talking about his OWN apartment, he'll have to dig a little harder to come up with stuff for the resume. If he means he was dealing with a number of apartments (Did he own the building? Did he manage it for the landlord?) then he could call himself an "Apartment Building Manager -- Part Time". IDEAS: If he did any community work (volunteer stuff) you might be able to fill in a bit with that. If he did any investing, maybe there's something to say about that. AND ... he might consider taking a very assertive rather than an apologetic stance. For example, he could portray himself as "Way too young, too energetic, too creative, too productive, for this 'early retirement' stuff -- I'm jumping back in!!" That would give him something positive to talk about, rather than taking a defensive position. But in any case, dig around thoroughly for any and all evidence that he hasn't just been sitting around letting the grass grow around him. -- Yana
Back to the top of this page 27."How can I give any references if my past employer fired me?" --Evelyn R. Evelyn, Try to find somebody ELSE in that company that you DID get along with and get THEM to be your reference. And try to at least talk with the person who fired you. Tell him you really NEED a job and ask if he would cooperate by at least being neutral and not giving you a bad reference. (Maybe he'd be willing to refer the new employer to that OTHER person in the company, who you DID get along with???)
Back to the top of this page 28."I am a professional resume writer. Should I list my client's references right on the resume?" -- Mary Ellen McC. Mary Ellen,
Usually, NO. References go on a separate sheet of paper and are generally provided only AFTER the employer requests them. In rare situations, it might be useful to list the references at the end of the resume or on an attached sheet. For example, if the job hunter has an extremely "iffy" resume and you want to let the employer know up-front that he nonetheless CAN provide SOME references. The risk in doing that is that the employer may call the references BEFORE setting up an interview, and that is NOT the preferred sequence of events. About references: REMEMBER!!! Be SURE to tell your client to... a) Get permission from people to use them as a reference, making sure they're willing to say something good. b) Send them a copy of your resume so they have it in hand BEFORE somebody calls them for a reference. See my Verbal References Guide in Ready-To-Go-Resumes, page 97.
Back to the top of this page 29. "Do I really HAVE to fill out those miserable application blanks before I get an interview?" -- Marty Marty, For some companies, yes, you just HAVE to. But TRY first to just fill in your name, address, and phone number at the top of the Application, and then below add "See attached resume for details" or "This info appears on the attached resume." Then staple the resume to the back of the application (take a pocket-size stapler with you). But if they INSIST that you fill out the application completely, and you get to tricky questions like "Reason for leaving" or "Salary" or "Arrest record", TRY writing (in small letters) "Will discuss at the interview". You MAY get away with it, and if you do, that's to your advantage.
Back to the top of this page 30. "Can I just fill out the application blank right there in their office?" -- Marty again Marty,
No. Take TWO blank copies of the Application home with you (the spare one in case you make a mistake). Fill it out AT HOME where you have available all the information you'll need. THEN, stop at a copy center before you return the application, and make a COPY of it for your own records. You need to make the copy for two reasons: a) It will save you the bother of assembling ALL that info, all over again, for the NEXT job application: you can simply refer to your photocopy of the last application you wrote, for all those work history details. b) Just in case you ever apply THERE again, you want to be sure that everything you said on your second application is consistent with your first application! (They may compare old and new applications.)
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