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October 11, 2011 > Counseling Corner: Creating a Stronger Resume & Getting a Better Job (Part 3)

Counseling Corner: Creating a Stronger Resume & Getting a Better Job (Part 3)

By Anne Chan, PhD, MFT

This is the third in our series about one Tri City resident who came to me for help with her resume. Our story so far - Jane wanted a resume-makeover with the goal of finding a job with better pay and better potential for career advancement. As an administrative assistant, she likes her job and the people she works with, but she knows she will have to earn more to support the increasing needs of her family.

Our first session consisted of pinpointing her interests, skills she likes to use, and companies she wants to work for. Our second session consisted of putting lots of action verbs and details in her resume. The original version of her resume was sparse and gave no indication of how special she was as a worker. We went over her resume with a fine tooth-comb, examining each word and sentence carefully. I showed her examples of what she could do with each line of her resume. Most importantly, we added details and vivid description to her resume so that potential employers would get excited about bringing her in for an interview.

[I've changed the details of Jane's identity to protect her privacy, but she has graciously agreed to share her story with Tri City Voice readers so that others can learn and from her journey.]

After several sessions of hard work, we had a great working draft of Jane's resume - one that included lots of details and specifics and one that she was proud of. More importantly, I showed her how to tailor her resume to each employer. We made sure that each resume she sent out was specific to the needs of the particular job she was applying for. [Many people make the mistake of sending out the same old resume to each and every job. This is a mistake because they might be sending irrelevant information about themselves. It's really important that you tailor your resume to each employer so you can show why you can fill their unique needs and specifications.]

Jane's family was impressed with her new and improved resume. But the big question was: Would hiring employers be impressed as well? We would only find out when Jane tested the waters by sending her resume out to prospective employers.

The result??!!

Jane started getting invitations for interviews! All the work we put into her resume was definitely worth it and definitely paying off.

Yes, after a few weeks of hard work on her resume, Jane is now hard at work preparing for interviews!

I have now spent one session coaching her on job interviewing. Like many people, Jane was nervous about interviewing because she felt put on the spot and she also felt that she didn't have the best vocabulary. To ease her nervousness, I started off reassuring her that she didn't have to use big words during an interview. In fact, I forbade her to try and use big words. Instead I told her, "Just be your self - friendly, enthusiastic, and interested in the job."

We went over practice questions for the interview and I coached Jane on answering in a way that showcased how she could meet the needs of the employer. Quite often, people don't seem to realize the point of an interview question - they say too little or too much, or they don't even answer the question directly. The art of interviewing is basically the art of showing the employer that you can meet their needs.

Here's a big tip for how to handle any interview question - in your answer, demonstrate to the employer how you are qualified for the job. This is true of any interview question that is thrown at you. For example, if you are asked about your hobbies, try your best to show how your hobbies can add to the workplace or your skill level. Don't just talk about your love of cats or hang-gliding!

I also went over the mission and culture of each company that Jane was interviewing for. It is vitally important that you research a company before going in for an interview. Know what they are about, what their corporate culture and values are like, and research all you can about their products. You can tie in your research in your interview answers. This helps you to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to the company and their products.

Last but not least, it's important to review your resume carefully before going into a job interview. This will help you remember your own job history and will prep you for any questions that they may ask about your resume. You do not want to be caught off-guard with a memory lapse problem if the employer asks you about something in your resume!

A successful resume is one that gets you to the job interview stage. In this regard, Jane's resume makeover was a huge success. The next step is for her to get comfortable and shine during her interviews. She has already made a great start, but her journey in finding a better job continues. Stay tuned!

Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union City. She specializes in helping people find happiness in their careers, lives, and relationships. She can be reached at 510-744-1781. Her website is

(c) Anne Chan, 2011

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