Wednesday, March 27, 2013

College Grads May be Stuck in Low-Skill Jobs

Found this article from the Wall Street Journal and thought it would be good to share.  Enjoy the read!

College Grads May Be Stuck in Low-Skill Jobs

The recession left millions of college-educated Americans working in coffee shops and retail stores. Now, new research suggests their job prospects may not improve much when the economy rebounds.
Underemployment—skilled workers doing jobs that don't require their level of education—has been one of the hallmarks of the slow recovery. By some measures, nearly half of employed college graduates are in jobs that don't traditionally require a college degree.
Economists have generally assumed the problem was temporary: As the economy improved, companies would need more highly educated employees. But in a paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a team of Canadian economists argues that the U.S. faces a longer-term problem.
They found that unlike the 1990s, when companies needed hundreds of thousands of skilled workers to develop, build and install high-tech systems—everything from corporate intranets to manufacturing robots—demand for such skills has fallen in recent years, even as young people continued to flock to programs that taught them.
"Once the robots are in place you still need some people, but you need a lot less than when you were putting in the robots," said Paul Beaudry, an economist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the paper's lead author. New technologies may eventually revive demand for advanced skills, he added, but an economic recovery alone won't be sufficient.
David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied issues of skills and education, called Mr. Beaudry's thesis "provocative" but also "speculative." There is no question, Mr. Autor said, that the wage premium enjoyed by college graduates hasn't grown as quickly during the 2000s as in earlier decades. But whether that is the result of a glut of degree holders or some other explanation isn't yet clear.

Brian Hackett, who graduated with honors from the College of New Jersey in 2010 with a political-science degree, is among those who haven't found full-time work. Instead, the 25 year old works part-time doing clerical work and conducting phone interviews—and he is hardly the only one at his company with advanced credentials.

"There are people with master's degrees and bachelor's degrees and even people with law degrees applying to work for $10 an hour," Mr. Hackett said.
Mr. Hackett is hoping to start a new, full-time job in political consulting in a matter of weeks. But most of his friends remain either without jobs or underemployed. Many are back in school pursuing advanced degrees in the hopes of getting an edge.
Corporate leaders often complain that there are too few workers with the right set of skills, particularly in high-end manufacturing and certain trades. Mr. Beaudry said it is possible such shortages exist in specific industries.
But using Labor Department data, Mr. Beaudry and his coauthors found that demand for college-level occupations—primarily managers, professionals and technical workers—peaked as a share of the workforce in about 2000, just as the dot-com bubble was about to burst, and then began to decline. The supply of such workers, meanwhile, continued to grow through the 2000s. The subsequent housing boom helped mask the problem by creating artificially high demand for workers of all kinds, but only temporarily.
Better-educated workers still face far better job prospects than their less-educated counterparts. The unemployment rate for Americans with at least a bachelor's degree was 3.8% in February, compared with 7.9% for those with just a high school diploma. College-educated employees also tend to earn more and advance more quickly even when they are in fields that don't require a degree.
But as college-educated workers have been forced to take lower-level jobs, they have displaced less-skilled workers, leaving those without degrees with few job options. "You eventually push the lowest skilled out of the market," Mr. Beaudry said.
Tamela Augusta has seen that trend firsthand. She spent close to 15 years as an administrative assistant, mostly in the construction industry. But since losing her job last year, the 42-year-old Chicago resident has found herself losing out on jobs to better-educated competitors.
"In the past they were pretty much looking for people that had a high school diploma," said Ms. Augusta, who spent two years at Northern Illinois University. Now, she said, many of those looking for jobs have college degrees.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Job is Applying to Jobs

For people who feel like their full-time job is applying for jobs, here are some useful tricks to get responses other than "thank you for your interest".  Now applying for jobs should be a full-time job.  If you are serious about finding employment or a new job, you should be spending several hours a day looking through ads and re-writing your resume and cover letters.  There are a few things you can do to hear back from potential employers quicker.

1. At the bottom of your resume, type in keywords that you saw in the ad posting but are not necessarily on your resume.  After you type them up, change the font color to white so that the words are there but are not seen by anyone except the computer.  This way if the company uses a computer program to screen resumes, your resume will not be disregarded because you used the word 'train' instead of 'facilitate'.

2. Network.  If you know someone who already works at the company, reach out to them and mention that you just applied and ask if they can mention that to the hiring manager.  This works out better in smaller organizations but enough good things can not be said about networking.  If you know the person well, use them as a reference.  Having someone already working there as a reference will make your application stand out.

3. Don't be afraid to go through a temp agency.  People are more likely to be hired on after a trial basis. Take on a temporary position and wow your employers.  If they are happy with your work, they will try to keep you.

4. Follow up.  If it's possible, reach out to the company to see what you could have improved in order to be asked in for an interview.  Was it the format of your resume?  Was it your skills didn't match the job posting?  Was it you applied too late and another candidate was already hired?

There are a lot of things that can be done to increase your chance of hearing back from the company to which you applied.  Don't be discouraged by receiving a 'thanks for your interest' email.  Remember than someone looking at a resume will give it 30 seconds and if they are not interested by what they see in those 30 seconds, they will pass.  Try one of these tricks and see if you get a positive response.  I'm trying the first trick today so I'll let you know how it works out!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Reality of Resumes

The resume.  For many applicants it is their only chance to show potential employers why they deserve an interview.  Most resumes will be looked at for approximately 30 seconds.  That's 30 seconds to show your qualifications and get their attention based on your prior work experience.  No pressure, right?

I have always thought that my resume was well organized and a clear example of my qualifications for the jobs that I have applied for.  Over these past few months, as I've received rejection letter after rejections, I've begun to wonder why I haven't had the success I thought I would have.  In my graduate classes, we are a small close group and we talk about our lives frequently.  This semester, I'm lucky to have a professor who has over 20 years experience as a Human Resources Manager.  Over the weeks, as I've become more frustrated, she offered to take a look at my resume and cover letters and give some advice.  I thought sure, why not?

When I received the feedback from her, I was in shock.  I've been making many resume mistakes.  Some of the feedback were things that I had thought about changing but some were things that I've been told in the past not to do.  Either way, I'm working on redoing my resume so that I can continue applying to jobs with a new and improved resume and hopefully have better results.  

I know that resumes can be done in many ways and every HR professional will want to see different things on a resume but I wanted to share her advice on here (she did give her permission).  So here it is:


If you are making a career change or are a young person who is new to the job market, you are going to have to be especially creative in getting across what makes you stand out. This brainstorming exercise provides a great way to help you mine the raw material you will need to write a resume that grabs the attention of prospective employers. It does this by helping you focus your writing on what employers are looking for and what you have to offer. Do this exercise BEFORE you begin writing your resume.
The goal is to broaden your thinking so you can discover some new connections between what you have done and what the employer needs and wants. Don’t confine yourself to work-related accomplishments. Use examples from your entire life experience. If Sunday school is the only places you have had a chance to demonstrate your ability to teach or lead, great! The point is to cover all possible ways of thinking about and communicating what you do well. What are the talents you bring to the market place? What do you have to offer prospective employers?
1.     Write your answers to the question, "What would make someone the perfect candidate?"
2.     Prioritize your answers based on those qualities or abilities you think would be most important to the person doing the hiring.
3.     Then, beginning with the top priority you identified, brainstorm about why you are the person who best fulfills the employer's needs. Write down everything you can think of that demonstrates that you fit with what is wanted and needed by the prospective employer.

- Write from the intention to create interest, to persuade an employer to call you. If you write with that goal in mind, the result of your resume writing will be very different than if you write only to inform or catalog your job history. Ask yourself: What would make someone the perfect candidate? What does the employer really want? What special abilities would this person have? What would set a truly exceptional candidate apart from a merely good one?
- Resume Objective: This section, usually at the very beginning of a resume, tells a prospective employer what job you are applying for or whether you are submitting your resume for any job that fits your qualifications. As needed, your objective should be rewritten every time you apply for a job, so it is directed at a particular job. For those times you need to submit a generic resume, include your primary areas of focus, which I suspect would be such things as instructional design, learning and development, training, organizational development, etc.  If there are any other specific fields or industries you want to target in your job search, include those as well.

- The most proper/professional resume writing style is to avoid using the words  ‘am/have/I' etc. and start your sentences with the appropriate adjective/action word. For instance, in the “Objective,” start with the word 'seeking.' Also, use present tense (vs. past tense) adjectives. For instance, use 'Gather' instead of 'Gathered.' This is proper resume writing protocol.

- 'Awards' and 'Volunteer Experience' sections are not relevant if greater than 10 years old. Also, this kind of information is typically only included in recent college graduate resumes; not the resumes of people with 5+ years work experience.

- Use the term 'Relevant Experience' instead of 'Work Experience' and the term 'Other Experience' instead of 'Other Employment.'

- If you plan to look for teaching work, include information about all related certifications.
- Consider adding a 'Skills/Abilities' or 'Strengths' section that includes a list of your most significant attributes as they relate to the kind of jobs you are seeking such as 'Analytical Problem-Solving,' etc. In my case, I include a two-column bullet list of the HR areas I have significant experience in (i.e., Organizational Development, Performance Management, etc.). Now days, companies also scan resumes for 'key words' related to skills/abilities.

- Create and use a generic, professional sounding email address that you only use for job search purposes. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see a job candidate with an email address such as ‘, because it projects a very unprofessional image.

- Ensure that all bullet points are as succinct as possible with no extraneous, unnecessary words.

- Consider using a 'Qualifications Summary' section that includes some succinct bullet points about your experience. This section could incorporate and take the place of an 'Objective' section, in some instances.
- Bulleted lists: Emphasize skills and areas of achievement with bulleted lists. Standard bullets include the disc, the circle, and the square, however many symbols will serve as bullets. Whatever type of bullet style you choose, keep the look professional and consistent throughout your resume.
- Skills: Organize skills into the order they are most relevant to your job, or subdivide them into categories so that an employer can easily see what attributes you bring to the job.
- Consider including a ‘Qualifications Summary.’ This is a short statement of why you feel you are an appropriate candidate for the job. This section is an optional section.
The skills resume begins with a list of skills that relate to the job for which you are applying. The skills resume format is exceptionally useful when 1) you are applying for a job in a different field than your work experience, 2) you have large gaps in your work experience or 3) you have little or no paid work experience.
If you’re tailoring your resume for a specific job, then read over that job description and look for key words that are used frequently or unusual words that reveal what the employer is looking for in an employee. Even if you’re not tailoring your resume for one job, chances are that if you’re looking in a certain job field, desired skills will remain fairly consistent within the field. If you’re submitting your resume electronically, a computer scanner may search your resume for key words. Scanners then filter out resumes that a human employer will look at, while other resumes may be deleted without ever being read by a human.
The active voice makes almost any writing style sound better, including resume style. Transforming phrases from the passive to the active voice is usually not that difficult, but it can make a big difference because this technique makes it sound like you have actively pursued your work – which is true.

Write and edit until you have a well-organized document that emphasizes your most relevant qualifications for the position you seek. Maintain a separate document containing all extra information that you sometimes, but not always, like to include in your resume when you are applying for various different jobs.
‘Experiences’ may include coursework, jobs, volunteering, internships, externships and other relevant experiences.
Demonstrate qualifications for a given position by always tailoring your resume to the description of the position for which you are applying.


A resume is a marketing tool that highlights the aspects of your background you wish to draw to an employer’s attention. It is often an employer’s initial contact with you and they typically base interview decisions upon the content of this document. Resume writing is important and deserves an investment of time. You must be willing to write and edit until you have a well-organized document that emphasizes your most relevant qualifications for the position you seek.  On average an employer will initially spend less than thirty seconds reviewing your resume. In this short time you need to convince the reader you are impressive enough to be invited for an interview.

Tips for writing about your experiences:

Always keep your objective in mind when deciding what experiences you will include and highlight!  Also, use category headings as appropriate to the job. Examples include “Relevant Experience,” “Cross Cultural Experience,” “Teaching Experience,” “Training Experience,” or “Leadership Experience.”

1. Start by creating a list of all positions and activities in which you have been involved. Review the list to identify those that relate most to your objective and/or the job for which you are writing a resume.

2. Refer to the list of action verbs below and identify words that relate to your experiences. Begin each of your descriptive statements with one of these words. Never begin statements with “Responsible for…” and do not use personal pronouns (i.e. I, my, our, we). A tip you can use to be sure you have worded your statements properly is to put an imaginary “I” in front of the statement. If it makes sense with the “I,” you have probably written the statement correctly.

3. Ask yourself questions for each experience such as Who? What? When? Why? How? How many? How often? Results? For instance, if you chose “tutored” from the list of action verbs you can enhance your statement by indicating who you tutored, how many, what subjects, how often, and so on. You’ll end up with a statement such as: Tutored three at-risk junior high students in science and math on a weekly basis.

4. Include numbers (quantities, dollar amounts, percentages) whenever possible. This information makes your resume much more informative because it highlights the scope of your responsibility and/or accomplishments. 

Action Words
accomplished, achieved, activated, adapted, addressed, adjusted, administered, adopted,advertised, advised, allocated,analyzed, anticipated,applied, appraised, approved,arbitrated, arranged, assembled, assessed, assigned, assisted,attained, audited, balanced, budgeted, built, calculated, catalogued, chaired, charted, classified, coached, collected, communicated, compared, compiled, completed, composed, computed, conducted, confronted, conserved, consolidated, constructed, consulted, contracted, contributed, controlled, coordinated, corresponded, counseled, created, critiqued, defined, delegated, delivered, demonstrated, designed, detailed, detected, determined, developed, devised, diagnosed, directed, dispensed, displayed, dissected, distributed, diverted, drafted, drew, edited, educated, effected, eliminated, enforced, enlisted, entertained, established, estimated, evaluated, examined, exhibited, expanded, expedited, explained, expressed, facilitated, familiarized, figured, filed, filtered, formulated, forwarded, founded, gathered, generated, governed, guided, hired, identified, illustrated, implemented, improved, improvised, increased, indexed, informed, initiated, innovated, inspected, installed, instituted, instructed, integrated, interpreted, interviewed, introduced, invented, inventoried, investigated, judged, lectured, led, located, maintained, managed, mapped, marketed, measured, mediated, modeled, moderated, modified, monitored, motivated, negotiated, observed, obtained, operated, ordered, organized, originated, oversaw, participated, perfected, performed, persuaded, photographed, planned, played, predicted, prepared, prescribed, presented preserved, presided, printed, prioritized, processed, produced, programmed, projected, promoted, proposed, protected, provided, publicized, published, quoted, raised, reasoned, recommended, reconciled, recorded, recruited, reduced, referred, regulated, rehabilitated, reinforced, reorganized, repaired, replaced, reported, represented, researched, resolved, responded, restored, retrieved, reviewed, revised, rewrote, saved, scheduled, selected, served, shaped, simplified, sketched, sold, solved, specified, spoke, stimulated, straightened, streamlined, strengthened, studied, succeeded, suggested, summarized, supervised, supplied, supported, surveyed, synthesized, systematized, tabulated, taught, tested, trained, transcribed, translated, transmitted, treated, tutored, updated, upgraded, visualized, wrote

I know this helped me see some of the obvious errors on my current resume.  Time to fix it up and apply to some more jobs.  The search continues.  What resume tips have you received or would you give for someone on the job hunt???

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Interviewing is an art.  People who have gone through numerous interviews will tell you that they usually ask the same questions.  Those who know how to tailor their answers to the specific job they're interviewing for are artists.  I am an artist.

Just finished a phone interview for an internship position.  When I applied to the position, I thought that it was the perfect fit for me.  Then I found out some background information on the job specifics and am a little torn on how to act.  The hours are part time and the pay is less than what I make currently.  However, the internship is at a company that is well known and the internship is for a position that I want to make a career out of.  The down side is that barely any one is hired on full time from an internship position.  So how do I handle the situation??

The interview went great.  So well in fact that the interviewer stopped after three questions and said that she wanted me to come in for an in person interview.  Now the questions she asked I've heard before.  I knew they were coming and thought prior to the interview how to answer based on my experience.  It's also true that I really do have a lot of experience in this field.  

At this point I think I will still do the in person interview.  If anything it might be my chance to say 'no thanks'.  I'm going to have to sit down and figure out how I would work it into my schedule.  Maybe I can fit in the hours they're looking for around my current job.  It's worth a shot if it gives me the experience I'll need to get another job in my desired field.  If nothing else, it gives me a chance to practice my art some more.